President Trump boasted on Twitter this morning that “youth unemployment is at a 50 year low.” While President Trump didn’t cite a source for this claim, (but did include the “Fox and Friends” Twitter handle), he was probably referring to this release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that found July’s youth unemployment rate of 9.2 percent is the “lowest summer youth unemployment rate since July 1966.”
The word “summer” is a keyword in that statistic. In fact, just a few months ago, the youth unemployment rate was 7.6 percent – more than 1.5 points lower than is now.
Each summer, the workforce swells with young adults looking for work; some of them find jobs, some don’t. That’s why economists make an apples-to-apples comparison between the seasons when measuring the workforce, particularly for young adults. It’s a more accurate way to compare unemployment rates.
In reality, the growth of unemployed young adults is much higher this summer than a year ago. From the same BLS release that the President presumably cited:
“Unemployment among youth rose by 567,000 from April to July 2018, compared with an
increase of 458,000 for the same period in 2017.”
And even when you do adjust for the season, July’s young adult unemployment rate (6.9 percent) is still higher than it was in April (6.7 percent). And there have been plenty of months when seasonably-adjusted young adult unemployment (20-24 years-old) was lower than it was now, including 6.5 percent in September 2000.
And of course, these national rates hide the persistent disparities by race and ethnicity. In July, the unemployment rate for young African Americans was 17.7 percent. For young Latinos, it was 12.8 percent.
Meanwhile young adults who did find work this summer are actually earning less, or about the same than they did last summer. When adjusting for inflation, young men are earning $11 less per week than they did last year.
So don’t believe everything you read on Twitter. When you dig a bit deeper, there are still lots of problems facing young adults in the workforce, regardless of what the President says.
Note: We have updated our language to be more precise about the growth of summer unemployment between 2017 and 2018