Employment rate hits record low for young people

The proportion of people ages 16 to 24 who were employed in July was 51.4 percent, the lowest July rate since records began in 1948 and 4.6 percentage points lower than in July 2008.

The traditional summertime peak for youth employment saw 19.3 million workers in that age group on the job nationally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' annual report, released Thursday. The proportion of young people actively seeking work surges between April and July each year as people look for summer jobs or their first jobs after graduation.

"Every day we constantly have people in that age group asking for applications, and summer demand is always up," said Cynthia Sheridan, owner of a frozen custard shop at Crown Center.

Youth job searches this year swelled the ranks of the unemployed — those actively seeking but not getting jobs — by 1.1 million in the second quarter.

The Labor Department said 4.4 million youths were unemployed in July 2009, or about 1 million more than in July 2008, putting the youth jobless rate at 18.5 percent, about double the overall national percentage.

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