On Friday, the government released unemployment statistics that confirmed what millions of young adults already knew: the job market is tougher than ever. The youngest workers are still feeling the squeeze of slower hiring. In June, the economy added just18,000 jobs, which was not enough for the number of new workers who joined the labor force – and definitely not enough for more than 6.8 million unemployed Americans under 35.
Unemployment for people 18 to 34 edged dangerously close to 12 percent last month, even higher than it had been in May and much higher than the national unemployment rate, which was 9.2 percent. For many young people of color, their job prospects are worse than at any other point this year. Unemployment for African Americans ages 16 to 24 (unadjusted) reached 31.4 percent, its highest point since September and higher than in June of last year. For 16 to 24 year old White and Hispanic workers, who were finally starting to see lower unemployment rates, unemployment shot up to its highest level since February. More than one in five of these young White or Hispanic workers were looking for a job but couldn’t find one last month.
These numbers are particularly painful because economists had been telling us that the economy was finally in “recovery” mode. Stocks were supposed to be rising and companies were supposed to be hiring. But the latest numbers tell the story better than any one person ever could.