The share of young people aged 16 to 24 who were employed this summer fell to 48.9 percent -- the lowest rate on record since 1948.
Meanwhile, the raw number of youth who held jobs in July 2010 actually rose by 1.8 million from July 2009 to 18.6 million.
But as a percentage of the population, the share of workers in that age group fell, according to annual data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, released today.
The youth employment rate always rises in the summer -- and it went up this year by 571,000 from April. But that was half as much as in each of the two previous summers, the bureau said.
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For the summer of 2010, the youth labor force totaled 22.9 million workers in July, an 11.5 percent growth from April youth payrolls.
Knowledge of the recession and bad job market may have kept young people from even looking for work. Also, many in that age group could have been enrolled in summer classes and not seeking employment.
For whatever reason, the proportion of the 16-24 age group that was working or looking for work also dropped this summer to its lowest percentage on record -- 60.6 percent. That was 2.5 percentage points below the rate recorded in Juy 2009 and 17 percentage points below the peak of labor force participation for that age group in July 1989.
About 4.4 million youth were actively searching for work and considered unemployed in July this year. That produced a youth unemployment rate of 19.1 percent, the highest rate on record for the month.
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