Youth Summer Unemployment Rate Declines to 17-Year Low

Participation rate for youths was 60.6 percent in July 2017

Job seekers attend a job fair

Job seekers attend a job fair / Getty Images


The unemployment rate for young people aged 16 to 24 years old looking for summer work declined to a 17-year low, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The bureau looks at employment data for youth during the summer months from April to July, and found that in July the unemployment rate for this group was 9.6 percent. The agency uses July as a benchmark to compare from year to year since it is typically the peak in youth employment.

"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," the report states. "This summer, the youth labor force grew by 2.4 million, or 11.6 percent, to a total of 23.1 million in July."

The rate of 9.6 percent seen in 2017 is the lowest level seen since 2000—a 17-year low. Youth unemployment peaked in years 2009, 2010, and 2011, when unemployment rates in July hit 18.5 percent, 19.1 percent, and 18.1 percent respectively.

"The number of unemployed youth, at 2.2 million in July 2017, declined by 431,000 from a year earlier," the report said. "Of the 2.2 million unemployed 16- to 24-year olds, 1.6 million were looking for full-time work in July 2017, down 305,000 from July 2016."

The participation rate, which is defined as the percentage of the population that had a job or searched for one in the past month, was 60.6 percent for youths in July 2017. This was little changed from the prior year and shy of the historical peak of 77.5 percent in July of 1989.

There were more young men participating in the labor force in the summer than women. The participation rate for young males was 62.3 percent in 2017, compared to 58.8 percent for young females.

The number of young individuals ages 16 to 24 that were employed totaled 20.9 million, which was an increase from the 20.5 million that were employed in July last year.

Ali Meyer

Ali Meyer   Email Ali | Full Bio | RSS
Ali Meyer is a staff writer with the Washington Free Beacon covering economic issues that expose government waste, fraud, and abuse. Prior to the Free Beacon, she was a multimedia reporter with where her work appeared on outlets such as Drudge Report and Fox News. She also interned with the Heritage Foundation and Pacific Research Institute. Her Twitter handle is @DJAliMeyer, and her email address is

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