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Young Money: In November, Youth Unemployment Rises While Labor Force Participation Falls

In this Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, photo, job seekers wait in line at a job fair at the Dolphin Mall in Sweetwater, Fla. The Labor Department said Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, that claims for jobless aid dropped by 22,000 to 222,000, fewest since March 1973.

In November, the economy added 228,000 jobs and unemployment remained at 4.1 percent, bringing the 2017 year-to-date average to 4.4 percent. Youth unemployment climbed in November to 9.6 percent, up from 9 percent in October. The year-to-date unemployment rate for youth (defined as 16- to 24-year-olds) in 2017 is now 9.3 percent, indicating that 2017 is poised to have the lowest youth unemployment rate since at least 2005.

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Though youth unemployment is declining as a whole, opportunity still remains uneven, with black and Latino youth facing much higher unemployment rates than white and Asian youth. In November, the black youth unemployment rate was a staggering 13.7 percent, compared to just 6.2 percent for Asian youth, 8.3 percent for white youth, and 9.7 percent for Latino youth.

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Alongside an uptick in youth unemployment in November, youth labor force participation also fell, to 55.1 percent. The labor force participation rate measures how many people are employed out of the entire population, versus the unemployment rate, which only measures the proportion of unemployed people out of the population of people looking for work. A declining labor force participation rate indicates that fewer people are working, whether because they’ve left the workforce in order to attend school or take care of a child, or because they are looking for but unable to find a job. The 2017 year-to-date youth labor force participation rate currently stands at 55.6 percent, which is a slight increase from previous years, but still falls short of pre-Recession averages.

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