Business: Millennials challenged in job market

WILLIAMSBURG — A few weeks ago, I wrote a story about a man who wanted to teach Millennials the skills they need to get and keep a job.

They could use the help.

Because, while the unemployment rate generally is falling, Millennials are still facing higher unemployment rates.

Generation Opportunity, a national, non-partisan youth advocacy organization, just released its Millennial Jobs Report for July 2014. The figures for 18-29 years olds are not pretty.

The national unemployment rate was at 6.2 percent in July, near the post-World War II average of 6.1 percent. Some say the effective unemployment rate, which also counts people who have given up on finding a job and fallen out of the workforce, could be twice that high.

But the effective unemployment rate among 18-29 year olds is 15.1 percent. The nominal rate is 10.5 percent.

According to Generation Opportunity that means there are an additional 1.9 million young adults who are out of work but don't count as "unemployed" because they have left the labor force.

The rates for minority Millennials are even worse. The effective unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African Americans is 22.5 percent and even the nominal rate is 20.6 percent. Among Hispanic Millennials the effective rate is 16 percent and the nominal rate is 11 percent.

Young women are doing better than young men in the job market. Among women, 18-29 years old the effective unemployment rate is 12.8 percent and the nominal rate is 9.9 percent, much closer to the overall average for all workers.

The numbers are somewhat better in Virginia, where the unemployment rate for those ages 18-29 has averaged 10.1 percent over the last 12 months, accord to Generation Opportunity.

Although Generation Opportunity didn't break the numbers down on a local level, this is an issue with obvious relevance to the Historic Triangle. Fully half the residents of Williamsburg are students at the College of William & Mary. In the past, the vast majority of them have left the area, due to a lack of jobs here.

"I think it depends on the student and what field they are going in to and have they done their due diligence, have good collatoral in a resume and done good networking," said Kathleen Powell, executive director of career development at Cohen Career Center at the College of William and Mary.

"My generation is scraping to get by. 15.5 percent of us are unemployed and desperately seeking full-time jobs. Nationally, college graduates owe an average of almost $30,000 in student loan debt. Entrepreneurial endeavors from 'side hustles' to full-time Internet businesses are a key to our current financial stability, freedom from debt, and future security," Patrice Lee, director of outreach at Generation Opportunity, said in a statement accompanying the report.

And even when Millennials can find a job, it may not be a job that comes with benefits. More and more employers are going with part-time and temporary workers.

That's true even for those with degrees in the supposedly coveted "STEM" (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.

My son-in-law graduated with degrees in Chemistry and Math. He was able to find a job in his field fairly easily, but only by going through a temporary employment agency. Because that's how nearly all the companies in those fields are doing their initial hires. So he's got a fairly well-paid job and the hopes of getting a full-time position with the company if he does a good job. But he's being paid less than he's worth — the temp company gets a cut of his pay — and he's on his own in terms of insurance and saving for retirement.

That's not good for him in the short term, and probably not good for the company long-term because a temporary, non-benefited employee is going to be continually hunting for their next job. While hoping the worker impresses them enough to be offered a full-time job, the employer is doing nothing to foster company loyalty.

Business notes:

•To celebrate the unveiling of its newly remodeled Williamsburg store, longtime local grocer Farm Fresh Food & Pharmacy is inviting customers to a special 6 a.m. "super sale" on Wednesday, Aug. 6. The remodeled store is located at 4501 John Tyler Highway. In addition to the sale, Farm Fresh will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8:30 a.m. During the ceremony, Farm Fresh will award local public and private school partners with a donation as part of the grocer's 123-4 for the Community program, a company initiative that allows schools to earn school supplies and educational equipment.

• SunTrust Banks, Inc. announced last month it would team with LearnVest to provide tips and information to help people gain more control over their finances. SunTrust established this new partnership to help benefit everyone from students and families to career professionals and those nearing retirement. LearnVest's original articles will be accessible not only to SunTrust clients, but also to anyone looking to make progress on their money through suntrust.com/ResourceCenter/PersonalBanking. This partnership is expected to help to spark better financial literacy across the age spectrum with compelling reads such as "Survive a wedding weekend with your wallet intact" or "Seven reasons you need an emergency fund."

Susan Juhl, of Williamsburg, is one of 25 people throughout the Commonwealth who completed the requirements for graduation for the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities Partners in Policymaking program. Upon finishing the program she said, "Partners opened my eyes to the history, past and current paradigms, and existing legal framework that impacts individuals with disabilities in our country. Inclusion is more than physical proximity; it means every piece is valuable to the whole." Partners in Policymaking provides training to parents of young children with developmental disabilities or individuals with the same. Partners learn to advocate for people with disabilities through a series of workshops, presentations, and group projects.

Williamsburg Landing recently announced the appointment of four new members to its 2014-2017 board of directors. James L. Easton and John T. Hallowell, along with Virginia L. McLaughlin will serve three- year terms. Residents' Council President, Jack Edwards, newly elected by the Williamsburg Landing residents, will serve on the board for two years. As a non-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), Williamsburg Landing is guided by a local 18-member volunteer board of directors that includes two voting residents.

Schmidt's Flowers & Accessories is celebrating 75 years of service to Williamsburg in 2014. Over the years Schmidt's has had the pleasure of arranging flowers for notable dignitaries including Kings, Queens, Presidents and movie stars. They have also been the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards. The business is owned by Patti and Dave DeBlass will tell you it is an honor to own a store with such a rich history with the Williamsburg community.

• SERVPRO, an industry leader in disaster cleanup, restoration and remediation services, honored David (Joey) & Nina Butler, SERVPRO of New Kent/Williamsburg/Northern Neck, with the MILLIONAIRE'S Platinum award for outstanding revenue performance at its 45th Annual Convention at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. "This award reflects both the dedication of the SERVPRO of New Kent/Williamsburg/Northern Neck team and the ongoing support that SERVPRO provides that helps us maintain our leadership position in our industry," said Joey Butler.