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Recession Pushes Young People Out of the Labor Market

While America’s older workers are taking longer and longer to find work, spending, on average, 35 weeks between jobs, America’s youngest working generation is having trouble finding any jobs — and sometimes dropping out of the rat race completely. Tony Pugh of McClatchy reports:

Frustrated by a lean job market, nearly 1.3 million workers ages 16 to 24 have left the labor force since the recession hit in December 2007. That’s about 6 percent of them, and it’s nearly three and a half times the exodus rate of workers ages 25 to 54.With a jobless rate of 18.5 percent for 16- to 24-year-olds, some have gone back to school, some are volunteering, some are joining the military and some are just chilling at home until the economy heats up again.

In fact, the unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds is currently 25 percent, and it’s even higher for African-American (42 percent) and Latino teenagers (31 percent).

Overall, labor market participation (which doesn’t include military service, college attendance or volunteer work) is down to 55 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds as compared to the pre-recession years, when 59.1 percent of people that age were working — a 7 percent decrease. In the mean time, the labor market participation of people over 55 is up by 9 percent, due to economic pressures including retirement savings losses and spousal unemployment.

Although a 60-year-old woman is likely not competing for the same jobs as a 19-year-old woman (and statistics show that older Americans have more trouble finding new jobs after losing old ones than younger people), the combined high unemployment rates and duration on either end of the work cycle add to the pressure on the government to do something to help all Americans find work.

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