Youth Unemployment Rate Near 20%

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Unemployment reached a multi-decade low last month, dropping to 3.8%. One of the segments of the population that usually suffers from very high joblessness, black Americans, had a record low rate of 5.9%. However, the unemployment rate among young Americans was double the national rate at the worst part of the Great Recession. It was 19.8% in May.

Young Americans are categorized as those between 16 and 19 years of age. Obviously, they are not college educated. The issue this raises is whether jobs that would normally be held by people with little or no skill are indeed filled. Normally, these go to the undereducated. There is also the possibility that many of the people in this segment of the population cannot work full time.

About the balance of the population:

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000 in May, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment continued to trend up in several industries, including retail trade, health care, and construction.

The unemployment rate edged down to 3.8 percent in May, and the number of unemployed persons declined to 6.1 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate was down by 0.5 percentage point, and the number of unemployed persons declined by 772,000.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.5 percent), Blacks (5.9 percent), and Asians (2.1 percent) decreased in May. The jobless rates for adult women (3.3 percent), teenagers (12.8 percent), Whites (3.5 percent), and Hispanics (4.9 percent) changed little over the month.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.2 million in May and accounted for 19.4 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 476,000.

Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.4 percent, changed little in May

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 4.9 million in May. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.