NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Joblessness Hitting Youths Particularly Hard

January 28, 2002

Labor specialists confirm that jobless rates are soaring for workers ages 24 or younger. The trend alarms economists because youth unemployment can hamper income and advancement later.

  • The jobless rate for people ages 20 to 24 hit 9.6 percent last month -- while the unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds is topping 16 percent, according to the Department of Labor.
  • That's far above the national jobless rate of 5.8 percent.
  • One reason the rates are so high in this category is that employers are favoring applicants with skills and proven performance -- unlike their preferences in the last recession, when the strategy was to cut people who were older and more expensive.
  • Also, high school and college-age students were disproportionately represented in high-tech industries -- a sector which has been hit hard by the downturn.

Climbing unemployment has increased competition for jobs -- causing older workers with more experience to take more entry-level jobs typically held by younger workers.

More than 44 percent of the unemployed are under 30, according to the Employment Policy Foundation. But only one-third of those are heads of families. More than half are children or other relatives of the heads of households -- or single people living on their own.

Source: Stephanie Armour, "Young Job Seekers Get Squeezed Out," USA Today, January 28, 2002.


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