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Stubbornly High Youth Unemployment Limits Summer Job Opportunities

The new jobs numbers are out, and they are disappointing. In the month of May the economy added a paltry 69,000 jobs, not enough to keep up with population growth, as the unemployment rate rose slightly from 8.1% to 8.2%. Young people on the lookout for summer jobs may find them elusive: the unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year-olds remains a whopping 16.1%. That is down from 16.4% in April, but still daunting.

While the youngest workers saw a little light last month, prospects dimmed for everyone else. The unemployment rate rose slightly for older young adults ages 25 to 34 to 8.2%. Young African Americans in this age range saw their jobless rate jump 1.4 percentage points to 14.8% (seasonally unadjusted). Young adult Latinos similarly suffered a full percentage point increase in unemployment (seasonally unadjusted).

The youngest people of color continue to struggle the most. Teenagers and those in their early twenties face jobless rates above that of the general population during the Great Depression. Young black teenagers, ages 16-19, have a shocking unemployment rate of 35.8% (seasonally unadjusted). Things were not much better for young Latino teenagers who saw a May unemployment rate of 29.7%. The pervasive lack of opportunity has left relatively few young people of color in the workforce.

The employment figures for all groups, while disappointing, show a slight improvement over this time last year.  But while we continue to climb out of our economic hole, young Americans have much further to go than everyone else. The May numbers remain frustratingly high.