Bleak prospects for young people seeking employment

By Richa Naik

The unemployment rate for young people continues to be nearly twice that of the national average.

A survey released Friday by the Labor Department shows that the national unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent in February — down from 9 percent in the previous month. However, the unemployment rate for those between ages 20 and 24 rose to 15.4 percent — up from 15.2 percent the previous month.

Since the start of the recession, the unemployment rate for people between 20 and 24 has hovered around 15 percent. The last time it was this high was during the end of the recession in 1982.

A different survey released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics also showed that in the current economic downturn, young men continue to face a higher unemployment rate than young women. Unemployment for young men was at its highest in April 2010 at 19.8 percent. Unemployment for women of the same age reached its highest in January of this year at 14.4 percent.

The unemployment rates in February 2011 for males and females between 20 and 24 were 16.4 percent and 14.2 percent, respectively.

The survey by the Labor Department also showed that 43.9 percent of the total unemployed were people who had been jobless for 27 weeks or more.

The number of discouraged workers — those who are not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them, and are thus not included when calculating the unemployment rate — is currently 1 million and has fallen by 184,000 workers since February 2010.

According to the survey, the unemployment rate is likely to rise as discouraged workers begin to enter the workforce when they see that more employers are hiring.

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