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Economic News Release
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Employment and Unemployment Among Youth Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Wednesday, August 18, 2021				USDL-21-1515

Technical information:   (202) 691-6378  *  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps
Media contact:           (202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov


		EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG YOUTH -- SUMMER 2021


In July 2021, 54.4 percent of young people (persons ages 16 to 24) were employed, the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This was up from 46.7 percent in July 2020--
when youth employment was unusually low due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic--but
down from 56.2 percent in July 2019, before the pandemic. (The month of July typically is
the summertime peak in youth employment.) The unemployment rate for youth was 10.0 percent
in July 2021, down considerably from the rate in July 2020 (18.5 percent) but up 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 2.4 million, or 11.7 percent, to a total of 22.5 million in July. (See table 1.) 

The labor force participation rate for all youth was 60.5 percent in July 2021, an increase
of 3.2 percentage points 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.) (See table 2.) The large over-the-year increase in the youth labor force
participation rate partly reflects widespread business closures and other restrictions in
the early stages of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which held down youth employment
in July 2020. Despite the large increase in 2021, the July youth labor force participation
rate was 1.3 percentage points lower than its 2019 level. 

In 2021, the July labor force participation rate for 16- to 24-year-old men, at 61.8 
percent, was up by 3.4 percentage points over the year but down by 1.4 percentage points
from 2019. The July rate for young women increased by 2.9 percentage points in 2021 to 59.1
percent but was 1.3 percentage points lower than in 2019. Youth labor force participation
rates for Whites (62.8 percent), Blacks (55.1 percent), and Hispanics (56.8 percent) were
higher in July 2021 than they were a year earlier when participation rates for these groups
declined abruptly due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the July 2021 
participation rate for Asians (44.6 percent) changed little over the year. The July 2021
participation rate for young Whites and for young Blacks were 1.3 percentage points and 3.2
percentage points lower, respectively, than in July 2019. The participation rate for young
Asians, at 44.6 percent in July 2021, was the same as in July 2019, and the rate for 
Hispanics, at 56.8 percent in July 2021, was little different than the rate in July 2019.
(See table 2.)

Employment

In July 2021, there were 20.3 million employed 16- to 24-year-olds. Between April and July,
the number of employed youth rose by 2.1 million, or 11.8 percent. The employment-population
ratio for youth--the proportion of the 16- to 24-year-old civilian noninstitutional 
population with a job--was 54.4 percent in July 2021, an increase of 7.7 percentage points 
from the prior year. However, the July 2021 ratio was lower than the July 2019 ratio of 
56.2 percent. (See tables 1 and 2.) 

Employment-population ratios were higher in July 2021 than they were a year earlier for 
young men (55.1 percent), women (53.7 percent), Whites (57.2 percent), Blacks (47.6 
percent), Asians (39.1 percent), and Hispanics (50.2 percent). However, for each of these
groups the ratios in July 2021 were lower than July 2019. 

In July 2021, 25 percent (5.2 million) of employed 16- to 24-year-olds worked in the 
leisure and hospitality industry, the largest share of youth workers. The leisure and 
hospitality industry, which includes food services, was particularly affected by pandemic-
related job losses. As pandemic-related restrictions began to ease in 2021, youth 
employment in the leisure and hospitality industry started to rebound; it was up by 981,000
from July 2020 to July 2021. (By comparison, employment in the industry was down by 1.1
million from July 2019 to July 2020.) An additional 20 percent of employed youth worked in 
the retail trade industry in July 2021, 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 221,000 from April to July 2021. Three-fourths of the 
unemployed youth were looking for full-time work in July 2021, compared with about two-
thirds in July 2018, 2019, and 2020. (See tables 1 and 2.) 

The youth unemployment rate, at 10.0 percent in July 2021, was down from 18.5 percent in
July 2020 but was higher than the July 2019 rate of 9.1 percent. The July 2021 unemployment
rates for young men (10.9 percent), women (9.1 percent), Whites (8.9 percent), Blacks (13.6
percent), Asians (12.3 percent), and Hispanics (11.7 percent) were all substantially lower
than in the prior summer. 



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Last Modified Date: August 18, 2021