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What is a NEET?

Unemployment numbers are troublesome across the board and across the globe. The September 2012 unemployment rate for young adults in the European Union was 22.8 percent (and over 50 percent in Greece and Spain). However, is the situation in the US so different? Although the overall unemployment rate was 7.8 percent last month, a certain group of young adults can be excluded from the formula that determines the unemployment rate.

NEETs— persons not employed, in education or training— account for a percentage of the workforce that is not factored into unemployment statistics, because they were too recently attached to education of some kind (i.e. recent college or high school graduates). However, this group is struggling to find work just as much as everyone else, and frequently with the threat of student loans breathing down their necks.

So, what percentage of young adults qualify as NEETs? According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 14.8 percent of young Americans qualified as NEETs in the first quarter of 2011 (the latest data available). In the EU as a whole, the percentage of NEETs is 13.2 percent, with Spain and Greece ranking at 17.6 percent and 18.2 percent respectively for the same time period.

This data gives a rare look into unemployment statistics specific to young adults, and the picture isn’t that pretty. Granted, the overall unemployment rate for college graduates is around 4 percent (stay in school, kids!). However, the job resources available to young adults in the U.S. is comparable to some of the more seriously struggling countries in Europe (in Germany, Austria, and Scandinavian countries NEETs average below 10 percent). And the number is certainly well above the national unemployment rate.

So, if you are a NEET, what can you do about it? Although data doesn’t pinpoint a particular reason for young adults being marginalized in the job market, a lack of experience certainly seems a likely culprit. (See the linked article above for broader opinions on the source of the crisis in the U.S.) Volunteer opportunities could be especially helpful to NEETs whose resumes are suffering from lack of experience. Although volunteer jobs don’t pay the bills, they do establish good references and real world experience. Post-grad internships can also be very helpful

For NEETs, knowing the numbers should also make a difference in how you approach the job search. With unemployment rates this high a leisurely job search for young adults probably won’t yield great results. Know that it may be necessary to work a little harder to get the job you want.

Are you a NEET? This blogger was for about eight months. Tell us your experiences below, or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Mike Licht,

Kristin Anderson

Kristin has a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, with an emphasis in creative writing. In her free time she enjoys long walks, kitchen adventures, and making puns.

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