Summer Employment Drops For Minority Youth
WASHINGTON - From April to July 2010, the number of employed youth 16 to 24 years old rose by 1.8 million to 18.6
million, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This year, the share of young people who
were employed in July was 48.9 percent, the lowest July rate on record for the series, which began in
1948. (The month of July typically is the summertime peak in youth employment.) Unemployment
among youth increased by 571,000 between April and July, about half as much as in each of the two
previous summers. (Because this analysis focuses on the seasonal changes in youth employment and
unemployment that occur each spring and summer, the data are not seasonally adjusted.)
The youth labor force—16- to 24-year-olds working or actively looking for work—grows sharply
between April and July each year. During these months, large numbers of high school and college
students search for or take summer jobs, and many graduates enter the labor market to look for or begin
permanent employment. This summer, the youth labor force grew by 2.4 million, or 11.5 percent, to a
total of 22.9 million in July.
The labor force participation rate for all youth—the proportion of the population 16 to 24 years old
working or looking for work—was 60.5 percent in July, the lowest July rate on record. The July rate
was down by 2.5 percentage points from July 2009 and 17.0 percentage points below the peak for that
month in 1989 (77.5 percent).
The July labor force participation rate for 16- to 24-year-old men, at 62.7 percent, was down by 2.2
percentage points from a year earlier, and the rate for women, at 58.1 percent, was down by 3.0 percentage
points over the year. For several decades prior to 1989, the July labor force participation rate for
young men showed no clear trend, ranging from 81 to 86 percent. Since July 1989, however, their
participation rate for the month has trended down, falling by about 20 percentage points. The July labor
force participation rate for young women peaked in 1989 at 72.4 percent, following a long-term upward
trend; their rate has since fallen by about 14 percentage points.
The July participation rate for whites declined by 2.8 percentage points from a year earlier, to 63.2
percent. The rate for blacks, at 51.6 percent, was down slightly, and the rate for Hispanics, at 56.1 percent,
decreased by 3.3 percentage points. For all three groups, labor force participation rates were substantially
lower than their peaks reached in July 1989. The participation rate for Asian youth was 48.3
percent in July 2010, little changed from July 2009.
In July, 18.6 million 16- to 24-year-olds were employed. This summer's increase in youth employment
was slightly larger than last year's (1.8 million vs. 1.6 million) and about the same as in 2008. The
employment-population ratio for youth—the proportion of the 16- to 24-year-old civilian
noninstitutional population that was employed—was 48.9 percent in July, down 2.5 percentage points
from July 2009. The ratio has dropped by about 20 percentage points since its peak in July 1989. July
2010 marks the first time in the history of the series that less than half of all youth 16 to 24 years old
were employed in that month. The sharp decline in recent years reflects continued weak labor market
conditions experienced during the recession that began in December 2007.
The employment-population ratio for young men was 49.9 percent in July, down from 52.2 percent in
July 2009. The employment-population ratios for women (48.0 percent), whites (53.0 percent), and
Hispanics (43.6 percent) in July 2010 also were substantially lower than a year earlier.
In July, 25 percent of employed youth worked in the leisure and hospitality sector (which includes food
services), the same as a year earlier. Another 20 percent were employed in the retail trade industry, also
the same proportion as a year earlier.
In July, 4.4 million youth were unemployed, essentially the same as in July 2009. The youth
unemployment rate edged up over the year to 19.1 percent in July 2010, the highest July rate on record
for the series, which began in 1948. In recent years, higher youth unemployment reflects the weak job
market. Among major demographic groups, the unemployment rates for young men (20.5 percent),
blacks (33.4 percent), and Asians (21.6 percent) continued to trend up from a year earlier; the jobless
rates for young women (17.5 percent), whites (16.2 percent), and Hispanics (22.1 percent) were virtually