Summer Youth Unemployment Falls Level Since 1969
The unemployment rate among young Americans fell this summer to match the lowest level in nearly a half century.
The jobless rate for Americans between 16 and 24 years old fell to 9.6% in July from 11.5% a year earlier, the Labor Department said Wednesday. The rate reflects those actively seeking but unable to find a job.
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Last month's figure, while more than double the rate for all adults, matched July 2000 as the lowest midsummer rate since 1969. Economists closely watch summer youth employment because it includes students working during school breaks as well as year-round employees.
The historically low rate comes with a big caveat: A far smaller share of young people are seeking summer jobs than in decades past.
The portion of Americans in that group who had or sought a job -- called the labor-force participation rate -- edged up to 60.6% last month from 60.1% a year earlier. But both of those readings are well down from 1989, when 77.5% of those in their late teens and early 20s were in that category.
The data reflects both short-term and long-term economic trends.
The low jobless rate is consistent with a tightening labor market. The overall 4.3% seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in July matched the lowest reading in 16 years.
Businesses, including restaurants, retailers and warehouses, are complaining about a shortage of workers and appear to be tapping younger people in larger numbers. In July, 26% of employed young people worked in hospitality, including food service, and 19% worked at a retailer, the Labor Department said.
In the wake of the 2007-09 recession, young workers found themselves competing with older Americans for entry-level, seasonal and part-time jobs. As a result, nearly 1 in 5 young people seeking a summer job couldn't find one in 2010.