With more people competing for less jobs these days, younger workers are giving up and dropping out of the labor market, according to government data.
The Labor Department says 48.8 percent of young people aged 16 to 24 held jobs in July, the lowest rate for that month based on data going back to 1948, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"The youth labor force … grows sharply between April and July each year," the Labor Department says in a report, according to the Journal.
"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."
Yet fewer young Americans found jobs this summer than last year, and because some of them didn’t look for work and left labor market, their official unemployment rate fell — the youth jobless rate declined to 18.1 percent in July after reaching a record-high 19.1 percent for that same month a year ago, the Journal adds.
The problem for those who do land jobs, economists say, is that many are often doomed to live with lower wages going forward when compared with young people entering the market when the economy is strong.
Overall unemployment rates have remained stubbornly high, currently at 9.1 percent in July.
The unemployment rate as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment came to 9.0 percent in mid-August compared with 8.8 percent at the end of July and 9.1 percent in mid-August 2010, Gallup reports on its web site.
Gallup says its numbers also suggest younger workers have it rough. Continued high unemployment among the young and the old "supports the notion that the prolonged and historically high unemployment rates of the past several years signify a serious structural unemployment problem in the U.S."
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