Popular perception leads us to believe that millennials have it bad when it comes to unemployment. Real bad. The unemployment rate for people in their early 20s is at 10%. That means one out of every ten of your friends who wants a job, any job, isn’t able to get one in today’s economy.

Millennials seem to be doomed to the impossible task of starting a career in a post-recession labor market. The common refrain we hear is too many people, too few jobs. We’re often left to wonder if it will ever get any better.

But how bad is millennial unemployment when stacking it up against the rate of other generations?

We plotted 65 years of unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out. The data looks at unemployment rates for 20 to 24 year olds, from 1950 all the way up to 2015.

What we found is not what you’d expect.

Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics

If you look at the above graph you can see that the current 10% unemployment rate for entry-level workers is just above the historical average of 9.44%. Compared to our parents’ and grandparents’ generations we’re really no worse off than they were when they entered the job market. At least with regards to finding a job.

It’s tough to get a job as a recent grad, no matter what year you grow up in.

Though Recent Grads Have It Worse

We also plotted the unemployment rate for the general population right below the rate for 20 to 24 year olds. As you can see, the unemployment rate for the younger people is consistently higher.

How much higher? The unemployment rate for young adults is about 1.6 times that of the general population. That means it’s pretty much always been 60% harder for people first entering the workforce to become employed than everyone else.

What this data tells us is that the hardest time to find a job is when you’re in your early 20s, which for recent grads is right now. So yes, getting a job in your 20s is hard. But it’s always been hard. It’s not a millennial thing, it’s a life thing.


A caveat to this is that the unemployment rate only tells part of the story. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the underemployment rate for recent college graduates, (meaning the percentage of recent college graduates who are unemployed, have given up looking for work, or are working part time jobs when they’d rather be working full-time jobs) is 17%. The study noted that a meaningful percentage of recent college grads have resorted to working part-time jobs when they’d rather be working full-time jobs.


The mal-employment rate for recent graduates paints an even different picture. The mal-employment rate takes into account employed recent college graduates who are working jobs that don’t require a college degree. According to a report from the Federal Reserve, the mal-employment rate has been hovering around the mid-40% range since 2004. This basically means that 2 out of 5 employed college graduates are working jobs that they could’ve obtained straight out of high school.

What we find is that while recent grads have the most problem getting any jobs, they more importantly encounter difficulty getting the right jobs, jobs that are full-time, meaningful, and utilize the critical thinking abilities and informed perspectives that a college degree grants them. And on a societal level, underutilizing our young people in the workforce on such a massive scale is an even bigger issue than a 10% unemployment rate.

That’s why Lynxsy’s mission is to provide recent graduates with meaningful work opportunities. We believe that everyone deserves a job that puts his or her education to good use, even recent graduates. The opportunities at the companies we partner with aren’t just for clock-in and clock-out, 9 to 5 jobs. They’re chances to make an impact, challenge the status quo, and work to overcome seemingly impossible challenges on a day-to-day basis.

So whether you’re in that 10% of unemployed recent grads, you’re not exactly feeling your current job, or you just want to see what else is out there to get you on the right path, check out Planted.