America’s 10 Million Unemployed Youth Spell Danger for Future Economic Growth

Sarah Ayres
June 5, 2013

Young Americans today are confronted by an unemployment crisis unlike any we have seen in recent times. To say that these Americans are having a difficult time entering today’s labor market is an understatement. As recent reports have documented, the unemployment crisis facing young Americans takes many forms, including high school students who are having a harder time finding afterschool jobs, twenty-somethings who are increasingly stuck in unpaid internships instead of paying jobs, and college graduates who are settling for low-wage, low-skill jobs such as waiting tables or serving coffee.

While each of these is evidence of the troubles facing young workers, none lays out the full scope of the nation’s youth-unemployment crisis. The reality is that youth unemployment is a much bigger problem than lawmakers have acknowledged. According to our analysis, there are more than 10 million Americans under the age of 25 who are currently unable to find full-time work—a number greater than the population of New York City, a city of about 8 million people.

As we have written before, America’s youth-unemployment crisis will have serious, enduring costs for individuals, society, businesses, and all levels of government. At 16.2 percent, the unemployment rate among Americans ages 16 to 24 is more than twice the unemployment rate for people of all ages. These young people are facing significantly higher rates of unemployment than any other age group.

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America’s 10 Million Unemployed Youth Spell Danger for Future Economic Growth by Center for American Progress