Generation Jobless: Young Men Suffer Worst as Economy Staggers

25-year-old cody preston has no college degree and had to move back in with his parents after going from job to job and landing in a low-paying and unsteady machinist job. wsj's conor dougherty reports.

portland, ore.—few groups were hit harder by the recession than young men, like cody preston and justin randol, 25-year-old high-school buddies who didn't go to college.

the unemployment rate for males between 25 and 34 years old with high-school diplomas is 14.4%—up from 6.1% before the downturn four years ago and far above today's 9% national rate. the picture is even more bleak for slightly younger men: 22.4% for high-school graduates 20 to 24 years old. that's up from 10.4% four years ago.

in contrast to those men, messrs. preston and randol are old enough to have had some time in the job market. they worked together installing granite counters before the housing bust.

young men feel job-market pain

cody preston, 25, keeps looking for work that will pay what he made installing granite counters.

leah nash for the wall street journalfrom college major to career

here's a look at how various college majors fare in the job market, based on 2010 census data.

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mr. preston married his girlfriend and settled into what he assumed would be a secure pattern of long hours on job sites and enough cash to travel and enjoy restaurants and bars. mr. randol at one point felt flush enough to buy a 63-inch television set and a 50-gallon fish tank for his apartment.

then the recession hit. neither man has found steady work since that pays as much as he earned before. mr. preston's marriage broke up and he moved back in with his parents, an increasingly common pattern for jobless young men. mr. randol has made do with help from girlfriends and by living in houses packed with roommates to keep the rent low.

for such men, high unemployment is eroding their sense of economic independence. their predicament reflects that of a generation of americans facing one of the weakest job markets in modern history.

robert pizzoabout generation jobless

americans 25 and under face one of the toughest job markets in modern history. this week, the wall street journal explores their stories.

also in the series:

    among minorities, a new wave of 'disconnected youth'
  • for those under 24, a portrait in crisis


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