Today the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest snapshot of the American economy. In October, 261,000 new jobs were added to the economy. The unemployment rate ticked slightly down to 4.1 percent, the lowest since December 2000. Estimates from September were revised, showing that the jobs market performed better than expected in the face of a series of hurricanes that ravaged regions of the country. Youth unemployment figures remain above the national rate, but continue to follow the national trend downward. That rate now sits at 9.0 percent, a slight decrease from 9.1 percent in September.
While both the overall and youth unemployment numbers show positive signs, the labor force participation rate remains a challenge, with the overall rate falling by 0.4 percent to 62.7 percent for the month of October. In comparison, the youth labor force participation rate fell by 0.6 percent to 55.6 percent. The labor participation rate is the percentage of people either employed or actively looking for employment.
While the downward trend in youth unemployment is welcoming news, when disaggregated by race and ethnicity, the youth unemployment numbers show a different story, with black and Latino youth continuing to experience a sizably higher unemployment rate compared to their white counterparts. For the month of October, the white youth unemployment rate decreased to 7.6 percent, a 0.2 percent drop from September. In comparison, the black youth unemployment rate saw a slight uptick to 14.3 percent, and the Latino youth unemployment rate experienced an increase of 0.4 percent, bringing that number to 9.4 percent for the month of October. Due to the small sample size, the Asian youth unemployment rate continues to show radical changes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that rate now sits at 6.6 percent, a 1.5 percent decrease from the previous month.