Special Report

Ten States Where Young People Can't Find Work

Unemployment in the United States has been a hot-button issue since the Great Recession left millions out of work. While the employment picture has begun to improve, albeit slowly, one group that still is in particular trouble is those aged 20 to 24 years old.

Read: Ten States Where Young People Can’t Find Work

While unemployment rates rose during the recession, they shot up much more dramatically for the part of our population that had just graduated from college. In several states, the unemployment for young Americans is alarmingly high. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed historical unemployment data for the U.S. population aged 20 to 24 by state to identify the 10 states with the most unemployed young people.

Unemployment trends among young Americans tracks with national trends. Between 2009 and 2010, the national rate rose from 9.3% to 9.6%, while the rate for those 20 to 24 increased from 14.7% to 15.5%. Between 2010 and 2011, the national job market showed signs of recovery and the unemployment rate fell to 8.9%. In that same period, the rate for young adults fell to 14.6% — a rate still nearly double that of the country as a whole.

Historically, things are as bad for young adults in these states as they have been in at least 29 years. Compared to 2001, when the nation was in the middle of its last major recession, the national unemployment rate was roughly the same as it was in 2011. However, the unemployment rate for 20 to 24 year olds was substantially higher. In nine of the states on our list, unemployment rates among this age group were higher than in 1981. In four cases, it is five percentage points higher.

There appear to be several common trends among the states on our list. Those states with high unemployment among the young have some of the highest proportions of residents without at least a high school diploma. All of the top three states with high youth unemployment were among the 10 with the lowest percentage of 20 to 24 year olds with high school diplomas.

These states are also, for the most part, extremely poor. Six of them have among the lowest median income in the country. Mississippi, which had the highest youth unemployment in the country in 2011, also had the lowest median income in the country in 2010, the most recent available year. As evidence of the extreme poverty in these states, many of these states have among the highest percentages of residents receiving food stamps. In Tennessee, for example, 17% of residents received food stamps in 2010, the second-highest proportion in the country.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed historical unemployment figures for each of the 50 states provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to identify the ten states with highest unemployment rates in 2011 among residents 20 to 24. The BLS provides unemployment rates for a variety of age groups, including those aged 16 to 19. However, these ages were excluded because such a large percentage has yet to enter the job market. 24/7 Wall St. also examined overall unemployment rates for 2009, 2010 and 2011 from the BLS. Statistics on educational attainment, median income and poverty from the U.S. Census Bureau were also reviewed.

These are the 10 states where young people cannot find work.

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