New Analysis: Teen Unemployment Up in 17 States and DC, Down in 32 States

As teens begin their search for summer employment, an analysis of newly-released Census Bureau data by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) shows teen unemployment rose in 17 states and DC between April 2011 and April 2012, and fell in 32 states. It was unchanged in one state.

Teen jobless rates still average above 20 percent in 29 states and the District of Columbia. When the analysis is broadened to include discouraged teens that have stopped actively looking for work but would still like a job, nearly every state experiences a jump in their teen unemployment rate. Some, such as Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, see an increase of nearly two percentage points.

The percentage of employed teens fell in 29 states over the last year. The full analysis is available here.

Nationally, the teen unemployment rate stands at 24.9 percent, and has averaged above 20 percent for over 40 months. The number of employed teens fell by 14,000 from March to April 2012.

“Although the jobs outlook has improved slightly for summer 2012, teens searching for summer employment are still faced with more competition and less opportunity than past generations,” said Michael Saltsman, research fellow at the EPI. “It is imperative that policymakers avoid legislation, like minimum wage increases, that put a job for young adults even further out of reach.”

Economists have shown that the value of a summer job goes beyond a paycheck. Research published in the Journal of Labor Economics found that high schoolers that worked part-time had a greater likelihood of higher wages and better benefits in future employment, as compared to their classmates that didn’t have a job.

“Missing out on summer jobs deprives teens of the opportunity to learn responsibility and important skills not taught in the classroom,” Saltsman concluded. “If policymakers at the state and federal level want to avoid a perpetual summer employment crisis for young adults, they should reject policies that destroy job opportunities”.