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Youth and Black Unemployment Drags Down National Numbers

Based on recent government numbers, 9.6% of black or African Americans were unemployed. The figure among people 16 to 19 years old was 18.5%. These stand in sharp contrast to other age and race groups and serve to pull down the national rate.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that people who are over 55 have an unemployment rate of 3.6%. Among white Americans, the number was 4.6%. For Asians, the figure was 4.0%.

Several months ago, The Guardian offered its opinion about high joblessness among the young:

The lack of experience is a common blight for young Americans. Gone are the days when teenagers could find a job to provide them with experience — and with a paycheck to go towards their college education. At 17.1%, the unemployment rate for teenagers aged 16-19 is more than three times the unemployment rate for the general population. A lack of work experience casts a shadow on the future job opportunities.

The vicious circle is rounded by the fact that people who do not have jobs cannot get training or experience.

The black unemployment rate causes may be more varied. According to work done by Pew:

The reasons are complex, researchers say, from job cuts in the public sector to the decline of the manufacturing industry to wage stagnation to discrimination. Mass incarceration in the black community also plays a role, since people with criminal records have a harder time finding work, according to Sarah Treuhaft, director of equitable growth initiatives for the Oakland-based think tank, PolicyLink.

Once again the problems form a circle. More than 50% of people released from jail will be arrested again. Separately, some manufacturing jobs have gone “overseas” as American companies try to save money.

The wide range of problems that cause high unemployment among blacks and youth are different enough that one policy cannot improve them, which makes finding one solution impossible.

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By Douglas A. McIntyre