According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, young people across America had a hard time finding summer employment, which will have a ripple effect on back-to-school shopping and other school year preparations.
The findings are included in the “Employment and Unemployment Among Youth Summary,” which found that, from April to July of this year, unemployment among youth and young adult workers aged 16-24 rose 2.1 percent, and the overall share of the young unemployed also rose to 50.3 percent.
“Unemployment among youth increased by 836,000 from April to July 2012, compared with an increase of 745,000 for the same period in 2011,” read a portion of the summary. “The youth labor force — 16-to-24-year-olds working or actively looking for work — grows sharply between April and July each year. During these months, large numbers of high school and college students search for or take summer jobs, and many graduates enter the labor market to look for or begin permanent employment. This summer, the youth labor force grew by 2.9 million, or 14.2 percent, to a total of 23.5 million in July.”
Although the summary paints a lukewarm picture on the state of summer employment for young workers, it did note an increase in employment opportunities — just not enough to keep up with the new entrants into the workforce.
“Employment for 16- to 24-year-olds reached 19.5 million in July 2012, up 2.1 million since April. In 2011, youth employment rose by 1.7 million from April to July. The July 2012 employment-population ratio for youth — the proportion of the 16- to 24-year-old civilian non-institutional population with a job — was 50.2 percent, up from July 2011,” read the summary. “In July 2012, the youth employment-population ratio for men was 51.9 percent, and the ratio for women was 48.4 percent.
“The ratio for whites was 53.5 percent, compared with 38.9 percent for Blacks, 37.4 percent for Asians, and 46.5 percent for Hispanics.”
Overall, unemployment numbers for young workers remained relatively flat compared to last year, with 4 million unemployed this summer, as opposed to the 4.1 million that were left jobless last summer.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis found several silver linings in the summary, trumpeting the small gains in employment for young adults, while blaming the overall numbers on the recession the country is still working itself out of.
“The numbers show that, while there’s still work to be done, opportunities are growing for young people around the country. It’s no secret that the effects of the 2007 recession had a significant impact on job prospects for youth, but today’s report showed positive signs that job prospects for young people picked up pace in 2012,” Solis said. “Between April and July of each year, the youth labor grows significantly, as a large number of students take on summer work and new graduates enter the job market. So July traditionally marks the peak of youth employment during the year.
“Youth employment increased across a wide variety of industries, including education and health services, manufacturing, transportation and utilities, but there remains much work to be done, especially within communities of color,” Solis continued. “Earlier this year the president and I both took a stand for the importance of summer employment, launching our Summer Jobs+ initiative. By teaming up with committed businesses, nonprofits and cities around the country, this effort provided more than 300,000 summer job opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged youth, including more than 100,000 paid positions.
“Together we’re helping young people across the country realize that there’s no substitute for the real-world experience of work and no replacement for the dignity that comes with earning your first paycheck.”