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New Year Brings New Opportunities

by Katy Fairl

Earlier today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its January employment report. The national unemployment rate fell from 8.5% to 8.3% over the last month as the economy added 243,000 jobs. The New Year also brought new opportunities for many Young Americans.

Young adults ages 18 to 34 years old watched their unemployment rate fall to 11.1% in January, down from 11.7% in December.

Younger workers ages 16 to 24 saw similar trends as their jobless rate fell to 16.0% from 16.7% in December. Over 140,000 young people in that demographic found jobs this month.  Encouragingly, young men – the hardest hit during the Great Recession – saw the greatest progress with a monthly drop in unemployment from 18.3% to 17.1%.

Unfortunately, America’s teenagers continue to struggle. The unemployment rate for 16 to 19 year-olds ticked up from 23.1% in December to 23.2% this January. One bright spot, though, showed that teens from communities of color making much-needed gains in their employment levels. Over the past month, the unemployment rate for black teens fell from a shocking 42.1% to a slightly-less-shocking 38.5%. Latinos teens saw a drop from 26.3% to 24.9%.

Overall, the trends are heartening for a generation battered by the Great Recession, but youth unemployment levels remain well above the national average. The widespread joblessness demands action by our representatives in Washington, DC.