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Recession erases 2.7 million youth jobs, widens employment gap

July 13, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu
  • Jack Hernandez, 18, fills out a job application during the Summer Youth Jobs & Training Expo 2012 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
Jack Hernandez, 18, fills out a job application during the Summer Youth… (Matthew Staver / Bloomberg )

Had the recession never happened, there would now be an additional 2.7 million jobs for young workers, according to a report this week.

Instead, there’s a Chicago-sized hole in the employment market for people between 16 and 24 years old, according to nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group Young Invincibles.

And there’s a good chance that gap will never close, to potentially devastating effect, according to the "No End in Sight?" report.

“The scary thing is that the recession may never end for young people,” said Rory O’Sullivan, policy director for the group, in a statement.

The current unemployment rate for young folk is at 16.5% -- double the national 8.2% rate. More than two in 10 Latino youth are jobless, while three in 10 black youth are unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But that’s only considering people still in the job hunt. Fewer than half of young Americans hold any kind of job at all. And the flood of youth who hid in higher education instead of taking their chances looking for a job during the recession doesn’t make up the disparity.

If the youth labor market expands at the rate it did during 2004 – the best year of the last decade – it could reach its pre-recession health by 2016. If it grows at the 1990s rate – during the longest economic expansion in the country’s history – it could recoup its losses by 2021.

Recent data suggest that the summer job market for teens is at its highest level in six years. Internship options (some paying nearly $7,000 a month) are rampant.

The Young Invincibles report, however, takes a more pessimistic stance, echoing earlier predictions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that young people may never regain their 2007 employment levels.

The high rates of youth unemployment and underemployment will likely lead to lower earnings for life and more young people who are neither in school nor working, according to the report.

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Follow Tiffany Hsu on Twitter and Google+

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