By Sunny Frothingham
September 4, 2015
Credit : Flickr user World Bank Photo Collection.

Both the national and youth unemployment rates dropped in August to their lowest levels since early 2008. The national rate fell to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent in June and July, and the youth unemployment rate (16- to 24-year-olds) fell to 11 percent from 11.7 percent last month.

Nationally, 173,000 jobs were added in August, and the number of short-term unemployed people decreased by 393,000. The number of long-term unemployed people and the number of involuntary part-time workers (people employed part-time who would prefer full-time employment) remained about the same in August.

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LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION

While the national and youth unemployment rates declined in August, the labor force participation rate (LFPR) held at 62.6 percent nationally and increased to 55.3 percent in August from 54.9 percent in July for youth. This is an encouraging sign because it shows real job growth. When a drop in unemployment is accompanied by a drop in the LFPR, it can mean that the unemployment rate is distorted by workers leaving the workplace. This month, a steady national LFPR and an increase in the youth LFPR shows that the decreases in unemployment are significant.

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UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE OF COLOR

Along with the overall decrease in youth unemployment, unemployment rates decreased for black and Asian youth, but increased slightly for Latino youth. The unemployment rate for black youth remains double the rate for white youth and almost four times the national unemployment rate.

Below, the August unemployment rate for each group is compared to the rates from June and July, as well as the average of the monthly rates for 2015 to date. The unemployment rate for black youth fell slightly from 20.7 percent in July to 19.4 percent in August, with a year to date average of 20 percent. For young Latinos, the unemployment rate increased slightly from 12.7 percent in July to 12.8 percent in August, which is also the year to date average. Asian youth saw the largest decrease in unemployment this month, which dropped from 10.7 percent in July to 8.9 percent in August, with a year to date average of 10.6 percent.

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