How youth are coping in tough economy

College students and recent graduates fill out job applications and registration forms at the City University of New York Job Fair in New York City.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: President Obama's gonna participate in a youth town hall meeting today on the MTV and BET cable networks. The president will take questions from audience members and viewers -- all young people, of course. That's a demographic hit hard by the sour economy, and doubtful anyone can help in Washington.

Here's Marketplace's Nancy Marshall-Genzer.


NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: President Obama last appeared on MTV in 2007, when he was still just Senator Obama.

MTV: Senator our next question comes from a website that we are partnering with...

Things have changed a lot over the past three years. The theme for young people now isn't "Rock the Vote." It's skip the vote. Some say it doesn't matter who's in charge in Washington. That's how 21-year-old Ethan Knower feels. He voted for Obama in 2008. But he won't head to the polls next month. He's had it with politicians.

ETHAN KNOWER: They'd rather just get into a pissing match, instead of actually trying to fix issues for the American people.

Issues like the unemployment rate for 16 to 24-year-olds, which is over 19 percent. Knower couldn't get a summer job this year. Now he's in his junior year at the University of Wisconsin.

David Polk is a sociologist at York College. He has a lot of students like Knower.

DAVID POLK: It's almost shades of the '60s, when people tried the political process initially and got disillusioned, found it did not work and became a bit more radical. The difference I'm seeing is I don't see any kind of radicalization. It's almost apathy.

Twenty-four year old Sarah Mollner isn't necessarily apathetic. She graduated last year from the University of Oregon. Now she's working as a receptionist. She hasn't lost total faith in government. But she's not asking politicians for much.

SARAH MOLLNER: My roommate's on food stamps and so, that's the best way I feel like a politician could be able to help me out, is making sure that if I need to get on food stamps that I'll be able to get on food stamps so I can eat.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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