As the American economy gears into the summer months, the unemployment rate continued its downward trend, while the youth unemployment rate for 16 to 24-year-olds edged up slightly. In the month of May the overall unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent, the lowest since 2000. While the youth unemployment rate experienced an 0.3 percent increase, the rate is still 0.1 percent lower than at this time last year, and 1.8 percent lower compared to May 2016. The unemployment rate for ages 25 to 34 mirrors the national rate at 3.8 percent. Overall, these numbers are strong, but young Americans are still struggling to get by, with paychecks increasing at a sluggish rate. Any economic gains seen in the May jobs report is with a backdrop of an Administration at odds with the needs of young people. This Administration is still working to gut the Affordable Care Act, restrict access to safe and affordable contraception, and eliminate avenues for college students to afford a college education and easily repay their student loans.
When the unemployment rate is broken down into different groups, we see persistent trends. The unemployment rate for white youth ages 16 to 24 rose from 6.7 percent in April to 7.5 in May, a sharp increase but in line with the year average of 7.6 percent and lower than last year’s average of 8.1 percent. The unemployment rate for black youth now sits at 13 percent, a slight increase from 12.7 percent last month. This rate is still lower than the 14.6 average rate for the 2016 year. The Latino youth unemployment rate experienced a one point increase and is now at 8.9 percent. This number is 0.6 percent lower than the average rate from last year. The Asian-American unemployment rate, a number that experiences heavy fluctuations due to the sample size, is now at 6.9 percent, 1.3 percent lower than the average for last year. These numbers make it clear that while the unemployment rate for young people has increased across racial groups compared to last month, the numbers are stronger than last year, but racial differences continue to persist.
While the overall jobs numbers paint a good picture of the economy, the labor force participation rate paints a slightly different image. The youth labor force participation rate fell by 0.2 percent and now sits at 55.1 percent. For the 25 to 34 age bracket, that rate is now at 82.3, falling by 0.2 percent. The LFPR for all workers took a small hit and decreased by 0.1 percent, now sitting at 62.7 percent.