103,000 jobs were added to the economy in the month of March, well under expectations and amidst volatility in the financial markets and unachieved promises from the tax law passed by President Trump and congressional Republicans. While overall employment gains are slow, and the national unemployment rate remains unchanged at 4.1 percent, the youth unemployment rate for ages 16 to 24 experienced a sharp drop down to 8.5 percent. The unemployment rate for ages 25 to 34 experienced a slight drop to 4.2 percent, closely mirroring the national unemployment rate. The youth labor participation rate for ages 16 to 24 remained stagnant at 56 percent, while the rate for ages 25 to 34 increased by 0.1 percentage points to 82.5 percent.
The unemployment rate for ages 16 to 24 fell across all races except for Asian youth where it increased heavily, rising from 3.9 to 8.3 percent. While alarming, this rate is subject to large swings because of its small sample size. In the same age bracket, the white unemployment rate saw a sharp decrease from 8.6 percent to 7 percent. The black unemployment rate experienced a decrease to 13.3 percent but continues to be troublingly high. Three months into the year the average black youth unemployment rate remains higher than the average rate for 2017. Similarly, the Latino youth unemployment rate ticked down to 9.3 percent, while the year average still remains higher than the average for the previous year. While still too early in the year to draw conclusions, these numbers are troubling and should be watched closely.
The labor force participation rate (LFPR) measures the amount of people employed out of the entire population, giving us another glimpse into the strength of the economy. As the graph below shows, the LFPR experienced swings up and down throughout 2017. That does not seem to be the case in the first quarter of 2018, with the LFPR for ages 16 to 24 having risen by only 0.2 percent since the start of the year and remaining unchanged for the last two months. The LFPR rose slightly across all racial groups in the 16 to 24 age bracket, with the exception of the white LFPR which fell slightly from 56.5 to 56.2. The LFPR for ages 24 to 35 ticked up by a margin of 0.1 percentage points, now sitting at 82.5 percent. The white LFPR for this age bracket is unchanged at 83.2 percent, the black rate went down to 82.3, the Latino rate rose slightly to 80.1 percent, and the Asian rate rose to 76 percent.