Record number of young Americans jobless

CHICAGO Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:03pm EST

People talk to job recruiters at a career fair in Los Angeles, February 3, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

People talk to job recruiters at a career fair in Los Angeles, February 3, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. economic recession has taken a particularly heavy toll on young Americans, with a record one out five black men aged 20 to 24 neither working nor in school, according to research released on Tuesday.

Teenagers have found it significantly harder to get a job since the recession began in late 2007, with black youths and young people from low-income families faring the worst, wrote Andrew Sum of Northeastern University in Boston, a employment researcher commissioned by the Chicago Urban League and the Alternative Schools Network.

"Low-income and minority youth, who depended on part-time jobs as a significant stepping stone to future employment, have been forced out of the job market and economically marginalized," Herman Brewer of the Chicago Urban League said in a statement.

Overall, 26 percent of American teenagers aged 16 to 19 had jobs in late 2009, said the report, which was based on U.S. Census Bureau data. That figure is a record low since statistics began to be kept in 1948, the researchers said.

Employment counts the number of people with a job as a percentage of the entire work force. By contrast, the unemployment rate -- which stood at 10 percent in December in the United States -- does not include people who have grown discouraged and stopped looking for work.

Joblessness was particularly rife among high school dropouts aged 16 to 24 who were neither in school nor holding a job, the report said. Family income also had a influence on joblessness.

Only 13 percent of low-income black teenagers in Illinois held a job in 2008 compared with 48 percent of more affluent white, non-Hispanic teens.

The "disconnection rate" -- Americans aged 20 to 24 who were neither in school nor working -- jumped to 28 percent last year from 17 percent in 2007.

"If you included those in prison it would be a couple of points higher," the report's co-author Joseph McLaughlin of Northeastern.

Among the proposals the report supported were government-funded jobs programs directed at the young, additional funding to help re-enroll school dropouts, and government-funded expansions of work internships.

(Reporting by Andrew Stern; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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