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Young Americans’ Unemployment Rate Rises in December, Falls Overall in 2012

January 4, 2013

Rae Roca

Young Americans’ Unemployment Rate Rises in December, Falls Overall in 2012

[WASHINGTON, DC]–The Labor Department reported that the economy added 155,000 jobs in December 2012 while the national unemployment rate stayed at 7.8 percent. Young Americans however, did not share in the progress. The unemployment rate for 18 to 29 year-olds rose nearly a full percentage point from 11.3 percent in November to 12.1 percent in December, reversing progress from the previous month. Overall, the unemployment for this age cohort fell from 15.6 to 12.1 in 2012.

Rory O’Sullivan, Policy Director at Young Invincibles, said “Young Americans have a long way to climb out of this economic mess. Unfortunately, we slipped backward last month even as the rest of the country continued to make modest progress. Young people today want the same economic opportunities as the generations that have gone before them. We need our leaders in Washington to step up and ensure we have a fair shot at the American Dream.”

The unemployment rate for younger adults, ages 16 to 24, had a similar rise from 15.6 percent in November to 16.3 percent in December, also reversing a roughly 1 percentage point drop during the prior month. The unemployment rate for this age group remains at over twice the national average.

Trends vary among young people of color. Young Latinos ages 16 to 24 continued a positive trend in recent months as their unemployment rate dropped from 16.4 percent to 15.5 percent.  On the other hand, young African-Americans saw their unemployment rate jump 2 percentage points last month to 27.4.

Despite the recent declines, the unemployment rate for young adults fell 3.4 percentage points in 2012 for 18 to 29 year-olds with slightly more young people joining the labor force. The progress is not fast enough, however, to avoid significant economic costs from lost experience and training for millions of young Americans.

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