Youth Issues


Minority Youth Unemployment Rate Increases.



According to the Department of Labor:

While the unemployment rate for African Americans fell substantially in January to 13.6 percent, it remains significantly higher than the 8.5 percent rate of November 2007, just prior to the recession. Aggregate numbers show that the African-American community as a whole has exhibited poorer labor market outcomes than other races even prior to the recession and during the recovery, demonstrating that they often face different and greater challenges. By breaking down the data by age, gender, education, and other criteria, this report examines in greater detail the trends in employment and unemployment among African Americans and shows how they have been faring in the economic recovery.


Some of this decline in labor force participation among black teens indeed reflects an increase in the proportion of black teens enrolled in school. Among 16-19 year-olds, 85.4 percent were enrolled in school in October 2011, compared to 80.7 percent in 2007, the year the recession began. The rate of school enrollment also increased for Blacks aged 20-24. In October 2011, 34.9 percent of this cohort was enrolled in school compared to 32.8 percent in October 2007. One factor that may partially explain why black labor force outcomes lag behind those of their white counterparts is their lower educational attainment. It is important to note the role of education in explaining the unemployment disparity faced by African Americans is very complicated. African-American unemployment rates are higher than those for Whites at every education level.


Despite racial difference in unemployment rates by education level, the link between greater educational attainment and improved employment outcomes remains strong for all racial and ethnic groups, including African Americans. Additionally, the unemployment gap between Blacks and Whites is smaller for those with more education.


At nearly 23 million, people of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity represented 15 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2011. By 2018, Hispanics are expected to comprise 18 percent of the labor force. In 2011, 58.9 percent of Latinos aged 16 and over were employed and just under 1 in 5 of those employed was working part-time. In 2011, 5.8 percent of Latinos were self-employed compared to 7.2 percent among Whites. The lower self-employment among Latinos is partly attributed to lower educational attainment and to less access to financial wealth.


Employed Latinos are much less likely to have a college degree than are either Whites or African Americans. Approximately one in six employed Latinos aged 25 and over have completed a bachelor’s degree, less than half the proportion among employed Whites.