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US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment and Unemployment Among Youth Summary

In July 2022, 55.3 percent of young people (persons ages 16 to 24) were employed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This measure was up from 54.4 percent in July 2021. The July 2022 figure remains below its level of 56.2 percent in July 2019, prior to the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (The month of July typically is the summertime peak in youth employment.) The unemployment rate for youth was 8.5 percent in July 2022, down from the rate in July 2021 (10.0 percent) but little different from July 2019 (9.1 percent). (Because this analysis focuses on the seasonal changes in youth employment and unemployment that occur each spring and summer, the data are not seasonally adjusted.)

Labor Force

The youth labor force–16- to 24-year-olds working or actively looking for work–grows sharply between April and July each year. 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. This summer, the youth labor force grew by 2.6 million, or 12.9 percent, from April to a total of 22.9 million in July. (See table 1.)

The labor force participation rate for all youth was 60.4 percent in July 2022, little different from a year earlier. (The labor force participation rate is the proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population that is employed or unemployed. To be classified as unemployed, a person must either be looking and available for work or on temporary layoff.) The July 2022 youth labor force participation rate was 1.4 percentage points lower than its 2019 level prior to the pandemic. (See table 2.)

In 2022, the July labor force participation rate for 16- to 24-year-old men, at 61.7 percent, was little different from the prior year but down by 1.5 percentage points from 2019. The July rate for young women, at 59.2 percent, was also little different from a year earlier but was 1.2 percentage points lower than in 2019.

The July 2022 labor force participation rate for young Asians (49.4 percent) increased over the year, while the participation rates for Whites (62.6 percent), Blacks (55.1 percent), and Hispanics (55.5 percent) showed little or no change. The July 2022 participation rates for young Whites, young Blacks, and young Hispanics were 1.5 percentage points, 3.2 percentage points, and 2.3 percentage points lower, respectively, than in July 2019. The July 2022 labor force participation rate for young Asians was 4.8 percentage points higher than in July 2019. (See table 2.)

Employment

In July 2022, there were 21.0 million employed 16- to 24-year-olds. Between April and July, the number of employed youth rose by 2.1 million, or 11.4 percent. The employment- population ratio for youth–the proportion of the 16- to 24-year-old civilian noninstitutional population with a job–was 55.3 percent in July 2022, an increase of 0.9 percentage point from the prior year. However, the July 2022 ratio was lower than the July 2019 ratio of 56.2 percent. (See tables 1 and 2.)

Employment-population ratios were higher in July 2022 than they were a year earlier for young men (56.3 percent), Whites (58.3 percent), and Asians (44.1 percent), while the ratios for women (54.3 percent), Blacks (46.4 percent), and Hispanics (50.1 percent) were little changed. The employment-population ratios in July 2022 for men, women, Whites, Asians, and Hispanics were little different than in July 2019, while the ratio for Blacks was 3.4 percentage points lower than in July 2019.

In July 2022, 24 percent (5.1 million) of employed 16- to 24-year-olds worked in the leisure and hospitality industry, little different from the prior year. An additional 19 percent of employed youth worked in the retail trade industry in July 2022, and 12 percent worked in education and health services. (See table 3.)

Unemployment

Typically, the number of unemployed young people increases between April and July, as people who were not in the labor force while attending school begin seeking employment. Unemployment among youth rose by 479,000 from April to July 2022. About three-fourths of the unemployed youth were looking for full-time work in July 2022, little different from the prior year. (See tables 1 and 2.)

The youth unemployment rate, at 8.5 percent in July 2022, was down from 10.0 percent in July 2021 but little different from the July 2019 rate of 9.1 percent. The July 2022 unemployment rates for young men (8.8 percent), Whites (7.0 percent), and Hispanics (9.7 percent) were lower than in the prior summer, while the rates for women (8.2 percent), Blacks (15.9 percent), and Asians (10.8 percent) were little changed from July 2021.

For the full report and all tables, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.