Youth Unemployment: A National Tragedy

WASHINGTON, June 8 – Calling youth unemployment “a national tragedy,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today cited a new national study which found that unemployment among recent high school and college graduates is much worse than previously estimated.

At Sanders’ request, the Economic Policy Institute analyzed census data on unemployment among young people who are jobless, working part-time when they need a full-time job or who have given up looking for work altogether.

Youth Underemployment ChartDuring the year from April of 2014 to March of 2015, the real unemployment rate for black high school graduates (ages 17-20) was 51.3 percent. The jobless figure for Hispanics in the same age group was 36.1 percent and for white youths the number was 33.8 percent.

The real unemployment rate for young (ages 21-24) black college graduates was 23 percent. The figure for Hispanics was 22.4 and for whites 12.9.

“It is beyond comprehension that we, as a nation, have not focused attention on the fact that millions of young people are unable to find work and begin their careers in a productive economy,” Sanders said. “We cannot turn our backs on this national tragedy.”

Sanders and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) last Thursday introduced legislation to provide $5.5 billion for states and local governments to employ 1 million youth from ages 16 to 24 years old.

Sanders linked high unemployment to incarceration rates. A recent Sentencing Project study projected that one in three black males are likely to be imprisoned at some point in their life.  The figures for Hispanics and whites are, respectively, one in six and one in 17.

“The answer to unemployment and poverty is not and cannot be the mass incarceration of young African Americans,” Sanders said. “It's time to bring hope and economic opportunity to communities across the country.”