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Editorial: European Crisis Leaves Its Youths Out in Cold

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The career hopes and dreams of Europe’s youths are being dashed on the rocks of the global recession.

In the 17-country eurozone, youth unemployment is a record 22 percent, twice the zone’s overall unemployment rate of 11 percent.

In countries facing the biggest economic crises, the numbers are the worst. Among youths ages 15 through 24, unemployment is nearly 53 percent in Greece, 51.5 percent in Spain and 35 percent in Italy. (In Germany, youth unemployment is 7.9 percent, thanks in part to its relatively strong economy and its vocational education system.)

By comparison, U.S. unemployment among those ages 16 through 24 was 16.5 percent last month.

While almost all eurozone countries were hit hard by the global economic recession, local practices, such as rampant government spending in Greece, caused young people to be hit hardest when austerity measures were taken in attempts to control debt. Cutbacks in generous social policies led to demonstrations and riots. In Portugal, the prime minister recommended that citizens emigrate to find work.

Economists say long periods of unemployment while young can depress a person’s earnings throughout life. The United States would do well to learn from the mistakes that have been made in some European nations, where lavish government spending and the resultant deficits are already having such a great negative effect on its young people.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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