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Unemployment Among 16 to 19 Year Olds More than Three Times the Rate for All Workers
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The economy has gained strength and overall labor market conditions have improved in recent months, younger workers have continued to struggle finding work. Bloomberg News has reported a sweeping change in young Americans. 19 year old Akil Alvin, in Detroit, is struggling to find a job as he competes with older, more skilled applicants. 17 year old Alex Lothspeich is choosing not to enter the workforce and will focus on high school. The unemployment among 16-to-19-year-olds stands at more than three times the rate for all workers. Teen unemployment is three times the national unemployment rate, according to the National Statistics Bureau. This is a record-low since 1948 when the Labor Department data starts. The drop first started in the 1990s as college enrollment rates climbed. The Sun-Sentinel reported that in January, 33.3 percent of those teens ages 16 to 19 were in the workforce, compared with 59.3 percent in 1978, the highest share on record.

Historically, workers ages 16 to 24 face considerably higher unemployment rates than workers ages 25 to 54.


The director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Anthony Carnevale, commented that “Work experience complements skill, and the combination of the two is more valuable than either one alone. It is more difficult to get going, to get onto the on-ramp, in the American economy than it used to be,” director Carnevale added.

The Boston Federal Reserve Bank published a report back in December in which economist Alicia Sasser Modestino was a co-author. In the report Alicia Modestino writes, “What has changed is the degree to which youth combine school and work,” Bloomberg News has reported the report reads, “Going to school has become the de-facto youth activity.”

Jessica Vogt, a high school counselor, says that she sees students who cannot find jobs dropping out of the workforce.

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Periods of unemployment early in a young person’s work life can have lasting negative effects on their future earnings, productivity, and employment opportunities. It is important, therefore, that policymakers better understand the causes of youth unemployment so that they can act to reduce unemployment among young workers and help them build the skills necessary to regain their footing in the labor market.

If you would like more information about employment opportunities with Georgetown University, click here.

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