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July 2009, Vol. 132, No. 7
A portrait of the youth labor market in 13 countries, 1980–2007
In most industrialized countries, relatively high rates of joblessness among young persons have persisted for many years, although with considerable variation across the countries. In recent decades, the unemployment rate for persons under the age of 25 in France regularly has been greater than 20 percent, while in Italy it rose to more than 30 percent, and in Spain it has surpassed 40 percent. Germany and Japan had very low youth unemployment rates at the beginning of the 1980s—around 4 percent. However, more recently, even Germany, with its apprenticeship system, and Japan, with its close cooperation between schools and businesses, have had youth unemployment rates similar to those in the United States, in or near the 10-percent range. The box on this page presents the various definitions of “youth” in the countries examined in this article.
In the first years of the 21st century, youths in the United States experienced a small decline in unemployment rates, whereas their counterparts in Japan, France, Germany, and Sweden saw a sharp increase. Young people in Italy and Spain had very high unemployment rates throughout the 1980–2007 period. These trends generally follow the trends in each country’s overall unemployment rate.
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