In the wake of the Great Recession, younger workers have had a significant amount of trouble entering the labor force, with unemployment for workers aged 25–34 hitting 10.5 percent back in May. But according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a glimmer of hope for younger workers, as their unemployment rate last month hit its lowest level since January 2009:
Jobs for 25-to-34-year-olds increased by 116,000 to 30.5 million in February. Their unemployment rate fell from 9% in January to 8.7%, the lowest since January 2009, according to the Labor Department.
Just as important, the portion of Americans in that age bracket who were employed — known as the employment-to-population ratio — rose to 74.7% from 74.5% and is up from a 29-year low of 73.2% in July. In a normal economy, about 80% of 25-to-34-year-olds have jobs.
Not only has the Great Recession been bad for workers entering the workforce, but as the Economic Policy Institute noted, the entire last decade has essentially been lost in terms of entry-level wages. As this chart shows, the entry level rage of college graduates today is below where it was in 2000:
And the picture is even worse for entry-level workers with just a high school degree. As the Wall Street Journal noted, “The drop in average wages for young adults is in contrast to U.S. government figures showing that average inflation-adjusted hourly wages for production and nonsupervisory workers of all ages and education levels are up 3% from a decade ago.”