Youth unemployment has been a concern throughout this recession and well into the recovery. According to the Current Population Survey, young people are having more trouble finding employment. Labor force participants between the ages of 16 and 19 especially face an annual unemployment rate three times the rate for the civilian labor force overall.
This is not just a phenomenon of the current recovery. From 2007 to 2012, younger workers have continued to have a much higher rate than that of the overall population.
While the employment situation for the country is improving, that gap is not. In 2007, unemployment among 16- to 19-year-olds averaged 11 percentage points higher than in the overall labor force. This difference peaked in 2010 at an average of over 16 percentage points. Since then, the difference has stayed roughly the same, losing only a half point in 2012. Over the same span, the unemployment rate for those 16 and older has dropped more than two percentage points.
The picture for young people in Idaho is also poor. Idaho‘s youth unemployment spiked during the recession for both 16- to 19-year-olds and 20- to 24-year-olds and has just begun to show improvement in the recovery. While the unemployment rate for the state stayed below the national rate for all civilians over age 16, the 20- to 24-year-olds surpassed the national rates.
Industries are still hiring younger workers although employment levels are well down from their pre-recession peaks. The totals have stayed roughly at 2009 levels even as the economy recovers. The majority of these hires, however, are new hires – the employees have not worked for the company in the past year.
Industries that hire the majority of younger workers include those that offer many part-time jobs such as restaurants and temp agencies. While parttime employment is generally not preferred by most workers, since many young workers are also attending school part-time jobs can easily be a positive. As the age of workers increases, the industries hiring heavily from those age groups start to vary more.
In 2007, residential construction would have been on this list. This industry provided many young workers an opportunity to gain experience and skills while earning a solid wage.
While the current picture certainly looks bleak for the youngest generation of workers in Idaho, it does have a small silver lining. With limited opportunities available, the value of pursuing education is all the more apparent. With increased skills, experience and, hopefully, a stronger economy, better opportunities should be available in the future.
Andrew.Townsend@labor.idaho.gov, Regional Economist
(208) 332-3570, ext. 3455
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