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Teens at work: Summer youth unemployment hits 50-year low

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Posted at 5:23 AM, Aug 18, 2022

This past summer, young people worked at a rate we haven't seen in half a century. The summer unemployment rate hit 8.5% in July 2022.

That is the lowest rate since at least July 1966, according to historical data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"I didn't go to a single seasonal place that didn't have a help wanted sign out in front," said Scott Blumsack, chief strategy officer at Monster.

Hiring grew in critical sectors like transportation, construction and agriculture.

It remained steady in other industries typically associated with summer work, like retail and hospitality.

Those businesses have struggled to hire for key positions in recent months.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.5% in July, and there were nearly two open jobs for every person seeking work.

"There's still a large gap between the number of people looking for work and the amount of job postings that are out there," Blumsack said. "It's going to take a while for those two things to come back into balance."

It reflects another post-pandemic trend: Fewer people are working or looking for work.

The labor force participation rate, which dropped dramatically at the start of the pandemic, remains lower than 2019 levels.

Experts point to several factors.

Some workers are concerned about their health amid the continued spread of COVID-19.

Others simply realized they did not need the income.

Either way, "We have more room to go before we get back to pre-pandemic levels," Blumsack said. "And I think that will be one of the keys to getting this supply and demand imbalance back into equilibrium."