By Sunny Frothingham
August 7, 2015
Credit : AP/Elaine Thompson.

In July, the national unemployment rate was unchanged from June at 5.3 percent, the lowest rate in seven years. July also saw a slight decline in youth unemployment (16- to 24-year-olds) to 11.7 percent, down from 12.1 percent in June.

The economy gained 215,000 jobs in July, while 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.

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UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE OF COLOR

In addition to the overall decrease in youth unemployment, July saw a decrease in the youth unemployment rate for every major racial and ethnic group—including white, black, Latino, and Asian youth. That said, the youth unemployment rate is still more than double the national rate, and the unemployment rate for black youth remains high: double the white youth unemployment rate and almost four times the national rate.

Below, the July unemployment rate for each group is compared to the rates from May and June and the average of the monthly rates from 2015 to date.  The unemployment rate for black youth dropped from 23.4 percent in June (the highest rate in 2015 so far) down to 20.7 percent in July. The year-to-date average for black youth is 20.1 percent. For young Latinos, the unemployment rate dropped from 15 percent in June (also the highest rate in 2015 so far) down to 12.7 percent in July with a year-to-date average of 12.8.  White and Asian youth saw minor decreases in their unemployment rates, remaining close to their year-to-date unemployment rates at 10.7 and 10.8 percent, respectively.

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LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION

While the decreases in the unemployment rate for youth across racial and ethnic groups is a positive sign, the labor force participation rate (LFPR) for youth declined slightly in July from 55.1 percent to 54.9 percent. A decrease in LFPR is worrying since it may mean that workers are leaving the workforce, which could distort the unemployment rates above.

The national labor force participation rate held at 62.6 percent, after a slight decline in June.

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