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This lesson focuses on the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Employment Situation" announcement of employment data and the unemployment rate for the month of December, 2012. The announcement was made January 4, 2013. This lesson introduces the basic concepts of the BLS employment and unemployment data. The meaning and importance of the data are discussed. Assessment exercises are included for reinforcing knowledge of the concepts.

KEY CONCEPTS

Business Cycles, Full Employment, Labor Force, Macroeconomic Indicators, Types of Unemployment, Unemployment, Unemployment Rate

STUDENTS WILL

  • Review the most recently reported U.S. employment and unemployment data.
  • Determine the changes in U.S. employment and unemployment from the past month and year.
  • Determine the factors that have influenced the change in the U.S. unemployment rate.
  • Explain the implications of the employment and unemployment data for individuals, population groups, and the U.S. economy.

Current Key Economic Indicators

as of May 5, 2013

Inflation

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers decreased 0.2 percent in March after increasing 0.7 percent in February. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.1 percent in March after rising 0.2 percent in February.

Employment and Unemployment

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.5 percent. Employment increased in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, retail trade, and health care.

Real GDP

Real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013 (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 0.4 percent.

Federal Reserve

To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends and the economic recovery strengthens. In particular, the Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that this exceptionally low range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent...

INTRODUCTION

Each month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases data from the monthly "Household Survey" conducted by the Bureau of the Census, providing a comprehensive body of information on the employment and unemployment experience of the U.S. population, classified by age, sex, race, and a variety of other characteristics.

The BLS also conducts the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, surveying about 150,000 businesses and government agencies, representing approximately 390,000 individual work sites, in order to provide detailed industry data on employment, hours, and earnings of workers on nonfarm payrolls.

The BLS compiles information from these sources and announces the monthly "Employment Situation," reporting the current U.S. employment and unemployment data estimates. The announcement, typically on the first Friday of each month, reports labor market data from the previous full month.

This lesson is about the January 4, 2013, BLS announcement, "Employment Situation: December 2012 ." This lesson will introduce the basic concepts and data for employment and unemployment.


 

"Employment and Unemployment Rate" Focus on Economic Data Lesson Schedule

During the second half of the 2012-2013 school year, (January-May), EconEdLink will publish four Focus on Economic Data lessons on employment and the unemployment rate. During this time period, the lessons will begin with the 'basics' in September (this lesson) and progressively focus more on complex data, issues and comparisons. All monthly Focuses on Economic Data will include the current data and significant recent changes.

  • December 2012. Released January 4, 2013: employment and unemployment data basics. What is employment? What is the unemployment rate? How are they measured? What is the current data? What do they mean?
  • January 2013. Released February 1, 2013: details and issues about the measurement and meaning of employment and unemployment, adding concepts such as underemployment, full employment, etc.
  • February 2013. Released March 8, 2013: detailed breakdown of the data by region and industry (trends, identifying trends and comparisons of regions and demographic groups
  • March 2013. Released April 5, 2013: the relationships of employment and unemployment data to other economic data, such as GDP, CPI, etc., and the business cycle.
  • April 2013. Released May 3, 2012: Year-end employment and unemployment summary

RESOURCES

Key Economic Indicators

as of December 20, 2012

Inflation

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers decreased 0.3 percent in November (2012) after rising 0.1 percent in October. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.1 percent in November after increasing 0.2 percent in October.

Employment and Unemployment

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 155,000 in December (2012), and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, and manufacturing.

Real GDP

Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the third quarter of 2012 (that is, from the second quarter to the third quarter), according to the "third" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 1.3 percent.

Federal Reserve

The FOMC decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that this exceptionally low range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent, inflation between one and two years ahead is projected to be no more than a half percentage point above the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and longer-term inflation expectations continue to be well anchored.

PROCESS

In October of 2009, the U.S. unemployment rate hit a recent high of 10.1 percent.  The U.S. economy had lost over 8 million jobs between November, 2008 and October 2009.  The number of unemployed persons in the U.S. increased from 6.7 million in May, 2007, to 15.2 million in November, 2009.  Today, the unemployment rate is much lower, but still high, especially for the almost 12 million people who are unemployed.  The U.S. has recovered to it previous level of output of goods and services, but the labor market has not.

What do these numbers really mean? 

The Employment Situation – December 2012
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Released: January 4, 2013

"Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 155,000 in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, and manufacturing."

According to the BLS announcement, the total number of U.S. jobs increased by 155,000 in December, 2012, just about the number than many economists suggest is needed to keep up with the growth of the population and labor force.  Using that guideline, the U.S. economy seems to have kept pace in December.  Those simple numbers may not tell the whole story.

Take a closer look at the January 4, 2013, BLS announcement for more information.  First, some important labor market definitions.

Who are the Unemployed?

According to the BLS definition, unemployed persons are, "Persons aged 16 years and older who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed."  (BLS Glossary URL: www.bls.gov/bls/glossary.htm )

Those under age 16, in school, incarcerated, or somehow institutionalized are not included in the labor force and, thus, are not eligible to be counted as unemployed or employed.  To be counted, you have to have not worked during the week of the BLS survey and must have been looking for a job.

[Teacher Note: Ask: Why are those under 16, in school, incarcerated or institutionalized not counted as part of the labor force?  They are usually not available to work full-time.]

What is the unemployment rate?

The unemployment rate is the number unemployed persons as a percent of the civilian labor force.  For instance, if there are one million people in a nation's civilian labor force and 100,000 of them are unemployed, the nation's unemployment rate is 10 percent.  100,000 divided by 1,000,000 is .10 - expressed as 10 percent.

[Teacher Note:  Given the appropriate data, students should be able to determine a nation's unemployment rate.  Try these examples:

Labor force: 125,000,000; Unemployed: 6,000,000.  What is the unemployment rate? (4.8%)

Labor force: 230,000,000; Unemployed: 18,500,000. What is the unemployment rate? (8.0%)

Labor force: 82,600,000; Employed: 80,100,000. What is the unemployment rate? (Hint: if 80,100,000 are employed, then only 2,500,000 are unemployed) (3.0%)]

The U.S. unemployment rate in December, 2012, was 7.8 percent, no change from the previous month, but  0.7 percentage point lower than in November, 2011 (8.5 percent).

Figure 1, below, shows the recent history of the U.S. unemployment rate since 1990.  Note the periods of increases and decreases that generally correspond with the business cycles.  The higher levels of unemployment beginning in December, 2007, and reaching over 10 percent in 2009, represent the most recent recession.  Also note the slight changes around the "trend" of about 7.8 percent since September, 2012.

Figure 1

[Teacher Note: Help your students identify pattern of the "business cycles" in Figure 1.  Remember, the business cycles consist of periods of growth, peak, decline and trough.  You may see the patterns of the cycles in the employment and the real GDP growth figures in the EconEdLink lessons. For more about business cycles, go to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) webpage: www.nber.org/cycles.html .]

Determining the U.S. Unemployment Rate, December 2012

  • Civilian Labor Force        155,511,000
  • Employed                          143,305,000
  • Unemployed                       12,206,000

12,306,000 divided by 155,511,000 equals 7.849 (rounded to 7.8 percent.)

Household Survey Data - Unemployment

As usual, the burden of unemployment was not evenly distributed among demographic groups or around the nation. Figure 2, below shows the unemployment rate by demographic group in December, 2012 - by race/ethnicity and educational attainment..  If you look at the historical data, the relative pattern of unemployment rates for these demographic groups has remained somewhat constant over recent years.

[Teacher Note:  The BLS provides an online tool to select specific employment and unemployment data, including historical unemployment rates by demographic groups.  URL:  data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/surveymost?ln ]

Figure 2

BLS data tells us that "education pays" in more than one way.  Those with higher educational attainment typically earn higher incomes and they are less likely to be unemployed.  For more information on the relationship between educational attainment, median income, and unemployment rates, see the BLS "Education Pays" webpage, www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm.

[Teacher Note:  Ask: How does education pay?]

Who are the "employed"?

According to the BLS Glossary, employed persons are "persons 16 years and over in the civilian non-institutional population who, during the reference week, (a) did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees; worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family; and (b) all those who were not working but who had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs.

Note: if you worked just one hour for pay during the survey week, you were "employed."

[Teacher Note: Ask your students:  Is one hour of paid work in a week meaningful employment?  Should someone who works for, say, just five hours in a week be counted as fully "employed"?  What about a person who has given-up looking for a job?  Is that person "unemployed."  The BLS definition says no.  What do you think?]

What is payroll employment?

"Employment is the total number of persons on establishment payrolls employed full or part time who received pay for any part of the pay period which includes the 12th day of the month. Temporary and intermittent employees are included, as are any workers who are on paid sick leave, on paid holiday, or who work during only part of the specified pay period. A striking worker who only works a small portion of the survey period, and is paid, would be included as employed under the CES definitions. Persons on the payroll of more than one establishment are counted in each establishment."

"Data exclude proprietors, self-employed, unpaid family or volunteer workers, farm workers, and domestic workers. Persons on layoff the entire pay period, on leave without pay, on strike for the entire period or who have not yet reported for work are not counted as employed. Government employment covers only civilian workers. Persons on layoff the entire pay period, on leave without pay, on strike for the entire period or who have not yet reported for work are not counted as employed. Government employment covers only civilian workers."

Counting the number of jobs, workers, or employment is sometimes difficult.  Some people have multiple jobs.  Some people are not legally working.  Some people are not paid, but do contribute to the nation's output of goods and services.  Why aren't the owners of small businesses counted in the number of employed? 

[Teacher Note:  Ask your students: What do you think is a good definition of "employment."]

Types of Unemployment - BLS Definitions

There are generally three types of unemployment typically identified by economists, each of which describes the particular circumstances of the individual and their employment situation.

  • Frictional unemployment is temporary unemployment arising from the normal job search process. Frictional unemployment helps the economy function more efficiently as it simply refers to those people who are seeking better or more convenient jobs and those who are graduating and just entering the job market. Some frictional unemployment will always exist in any economy.
     
  • Structural unemployment is the result of changes in the economy caused by technological progress and changes in the demand for goods and services. Structural changes eliminate some jobs in certain sectors of the economy and create new jobs in faster growing areas. Persons who are structurally unemployed do not have appropriate job skills and may face prolonged periods of unemployment, as they must often be retrained or relocate in order to find employment.
     
  • Cyclical unemployment is unemployment caused by a drop in economic activity. This type of unemployment can hit many different industries and is caused by a general downturn in the business cycle. Lower demand for goods and services reduces the demand for workers. Much of the increase in unemployment in 2008 was cyclical as a result of the economic downturn and recession.

The BLS publishes monthly data on "Unemployed Persons by Reason for Unemployment" as part of the Employment Situation report (Table A-11).  This data does not distinguish between the "types" of unemployment listed above.  Take a look: www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t11.htm.

[Teacher Note:  Students should be able to give example of individuals who are unemployed and determine their category.  Students can write case studies about why someone is unemployed.  Example:  Mary lost her job in the steel mill when the production of steel moved to regions with lower wage rates.  (structural unemployment)]

At the levels of unemployment that economists consider to be the lowest possible sustainable levels (discussed below), the only unemployment that exists is due to friction in labor markets and structural changes in the economy.

Full Employment

Economists define the approximate unemployment rate that is 'full employment.'  If unemployment falls to a very low rate, there will be upward pressure on prices. If unemployment rises to a very high rate, there will downward pressure on prices or prices will remain steady. In the middle is a level, or more likely a range, where there is not pressure on wages to rise or fall. That is, generally, the full employment rate of unemployment.

Economists do not agree or know for certain what that rate is and it does change over time. A consensus estimate is that the full employment rate of unemployment is currently between 4.5 and 5.0 percent of the labor force being unemployed.  Today, some economists suggest that, due to technology and business trends, the level of full employment has changed and the "natural rate of unemployment" may be somewhat higher.   Evidence of this is that U.S. output has increased without a corresponding increase in employment.

Additional Unemployment Data - December 2011

The BLS also tracks the length of unemployment.  In December, "In December, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 4.8 million and accounted for 39.1 percent of the unemployed. (See table A-12.) " The average length of unemployment during this recession has been especially long.

The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the total civilian noninstitutionalized population who are in the labor force (employed plus unemployed.) In December, "The civilian labor force participation rate held at 63.6 percent in December. The employment-population ratio, at 58.6 percent, was essentially unchanged over the month. (See table A-1.)"

The BLS tracks those who are not fully employed in several ways.  "The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 7.9 million, changed little in December. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)"

"In December, 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)"

"Among the marginally attached, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in December, little changed from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in December had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)"

[Teacher Note: Ask: Is a discouraged worker unemployed?  Not according to the BLS definition.  What do your students think?]

Establishment Survey Data - Employment

"Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 155,000 in December. In 2012, employment growth averaged 153,000 per month, the same as the average monthly gain for 2011. In December, employment increased in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, and manufacturing. (See table B-1.)"

Employment Data by Industry Group, December, 2012

As usual, in December, there was growth in some industries and lob losses in others.  The monthly changes in selected major industry groups are listed in Figure 3, below.  In December, Employment increased in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, and manufacturing.

Figure 3

[Teacher Note:  Students can discuss which industries are important to their school's area.  If manufacturing is a critical local industry, how has their region done in recent years as total manufacturing employment has decreased?]

Workweek Data

The length of the average workweek or the amount that employees work overtime can be an indicator of economic growth or decline.  As things get better, employers may choose to pay more overtime rather than fully commit to hiring more full-time workers.  An increase in the average workweek is usually a positive sign.  In December, the average workweek increased for most major industries. 

“In December, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours. The manufacturing workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 33.8 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)"

Average Hourly Earnings

The Average hourly wage increase has slightly exceeded the increase in the consumer price index (CPI-U) over the past twelve months.  Consumer prices have increased by 1.8 percent over the year. Source: BLS, www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm .

"Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7 cents to $23.73. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1 percent. In December, average hourly earnings of private- sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $19.92. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)"

Revisions of the June and July 2011 Employment Estimates

As is the usual practice, the BLS revised the employment data for the two most recent months, based on new or more complete. "The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised from +138,000 to +137,000, and the change for November was revised from +146,000 to +161,000." In this case, the October estimate remained essentially the same, but November was revised upward by 16,000 jobs.

[Teacher Note: For more information, see the BLS employment and unemployment FAQs. URL: www.bls.gov/dolfaq/blsfaqtoc.htm ]

[Teacher Note: Discussion Question: Between 2008 and 2011 federal laws extended eligibility for unemployment compensation for up to 99 weeks in states with persistently high unemployment rates. Some argue that longer eligibility for unemployment compensation may, in fact, discourage people from seriously seeking employment. Do you agree or disagree?]

What About Part-time Workers?

According to the BLS, part-time "refers to those who worked 1 to 34 hours during the survey reference week and excludes employed persons who were absent from their jobs for the entire week." These people are counted in the labor market as employed.

Some people work part-time for economic reasons, "those who worked 1 to 34 hours during the reference week for an economic reason such as slack work or unfavorable business conditions, inability to find full-time work, or seasonal declines in demand."

Some people worked part-time for noneconomic reasons, "such as "persons who usually work part time for noneconomic reasons such as childcare problems, family or personal obligations, school or training, retirement or Social Security limits on earnings, and other reasons."

[Teacher Note: Ask: Should people who are working part-time and want full-time work be somehow counted as unemployed?]

Labor Force

In December, 2012, almost 89 million people in the United States were "not in the labor force," and not counted as employed or unemployed.  Who were they?

The BLS explains: "Labor force measures are based on the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years old and over. Excluded are persons under 16 years of age, all persons confined to institutions such as nursing homes and prisons, and persons on active duty in the Armed Forces. As mentioned previously, the labor force is made up of the employed and the unemployed. The remainder—those who have no job and are not looking for one—are counted as "not in the labor force." Many who are not in the labor force are going to school or are retired. Family responsibilities keep others out of the labor force."

  • Those under age 16 are not in the labor force.
  • Those who are retired and not working are not in the labor force.
  • Those in the military are not in the labor force.
  • Those who are institutionalized (incarceration or hospitalized) are not in the labor force.
  • Those who have not sought work in 4 weeks are not in the labor force.
  • Those who simply do not have to or want to work are not in the labor force.

The U.S. labor force grew by 192,000 in December, about 37,000 more than the increase in employment.  In some months, the change in the size of the labor force has been the determining factor in the calculation of the unemployment rate.  If the number of unemployed remains the same, but the labor force increases, the unemployment rate will drop.  If large numbers of people give-up looking for jobs and leave the labor force, it is possible to have a drop in the number of those defined as unemployed,but at the same time have an increase in the unemployment rate.

[Teacher Note: You can go to the BLS announcement tables to see how the size of the labor force and number of unemployed can change in different directions in some some months.  Ask your students:  Why might people enter or leave the labor force? (They may become discouraged and stop looking for work, or they may feel better about their opportunities and begin looking  for jobs. If you are not working or looking for work, you are not counted as unemployed or in the labor force.)]

Alternative Measurements of Unemployment

The BLS explains, "there is only one official definition of unemployment, and that was discussed above (in the lesson). However, some have argued that this measure is too restricted, and that it does not adequately capture the breadth of labor market problems. For this reason, economists at BLS developed a set of alternative measures of labor underutilization . These measures are published every month in the Employment Situation news release. They range from a very limited measure that includes only those who have been unemployed (as officially defined) for 15 weeks or more to a very broad one that includes total unemployed (as officially defined), all persons marginally attached to the labor force, and all individuals employed part time for economic reasons."

Six Alternative Measures of Labor Utilization

  • U-1   Persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer as a percent of the civilian labor force.
  • U-2   Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs as a percent of the civilian labor force.
  • U-3   Total unemployed as a percent of the civilian labor force. (The "official" rate)
  • U-4   Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers.
  • U-5   Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labor force, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus al persons marginally attached to the labor force.
  • U-6   Total unemployed, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force, plus al persons marginally attached to the labor force.

[Teacher Note:  Ask: Which of these do you think is the most meaningful measurement of unemployment in the economy?]

{Teacher Note: The BLS's alternative measures have been redefined over time.  Previously, there had been seven alternative measures.]

January 4, 2013, Announcement Tables

CONCLUSION

The Misery Index

At the end of 2012, the "Misery Index" of the U.S. economy was 9.6.  The Misery Index is a hybrid indicator, a combination of the unemployment rate and the. rate of inflation. By the end of 2012, the increase in the CPI-U (annualized November data) was about 1.8 percent over the past year and the U.S. unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.  That made the Misery Index 9.6, slightly less than the past seven months, but somewhat higher than the average over the past twenty years, and lower than some recent years.  At the end of 2011, the Misery Index had been12.11. (Source: "U.S. Misery Index," URL: www.miseryindex.us )

The Misery Index was devised by Economist Arthur Okun, an advisor to President Johnson in the 1960s. The index is seen by many as a good measure of the health of the economy, combining two factors that impact people directly.  The Misery Index is not "official" data, but it does reflect the BLS data in a larger sense.

The Misery Index reached a recent high of 21.98 in June, 1980, when the unemployment rate was 7.6 percent and the rate of inflation reached almost 14.4 percent. In contrast, the recent low was 5.74 in April, 1998, when the unemployment rate was4.3 percent and inflation was just 1.44 percent.

[Teacher Note:  Tell your students: If you look at the history of the Misery Index, you will see times when there was very high unemployment and low inflation, times when there was high inflation and low unemployment, and every other combination.  Ask: Can you find a time when there was both high unemployment and high inflation - so-called "stagflation"? For more information and the history of the Misery Index, go to "The U.S. Misery Index" website,  URL: www.miseryindex.us .]

[Teacher Note: For a good lesson about the historical impact of economic conditions on presidential elections, see the Council for Economic Education's publication Focus: Understanding Economics in Civics and Government, lesson 8, "Economic Misery and Presidential Elections," Page 99.]

Following the Misery Index provides another way to look at the up and down cycles of the economy.  Keeping the Misery Index in mind, take a look at the December 2011, employment and unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[Teacher Note: Students may have different opinions about the meaning of the Misery Index.  Is it  a good measure of the economy's well-being?]

The unemployment rate is just one measure of the health of the economy.  Consider it only in the context of other macroeconomic data.

ASSESSMENT ACTIVITY

EXTENSION ACTIVITY

Youth Employment and Unemployment - Summer 2012

In August, 2012, the BLS released data concerning youth employment and unemployment during the late Spring and Summer of 2012. Take a look at this data and compare it to your experiences and those of your friends.

Employment and Unemployment Among Youth - Summer 2012
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Released: August 21, 2012

"From April to July 2012, the number of employed youth 16 to 24 years old rose 2.1 million to 19.5 million, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This year, the share of young people employed in July was 50.2 percent. (The month of July typically is the summertime peak in youth employment.) Unemployment among youth increased by 836,000 from April to July 2012, compared with an increase of 745,000 for the same period in 2011. (Because this analysis focuses on the seasonal changes in youth employment and unemployment that occur each spring and summer, the data are not seasonally adjusted.)"www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/youth.pdf

Youth Labor force

"From April to July 2012, the number of employed youth 16 to 24 years old rose 2.1 million to 19.5 million, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This year, the share of young people employed in July was 50.2 percent. (The month of July typically is the summertime peak in youth employment.) Unemployment among youth increased by 836,000 from April to July 2012, compared with an increase of 745,000 for the same period in 2011. (Because this analysis focuses on the seasonal changes in youth employment and unemployment that occur each spring and summer, the data are not seasonally adjusted.)"

Participation Rate

"The labor force participation rate for all youth—the proportion of the population 16 to 24 years old working or looking for work—was 60.5 percent in July, up from July 2011. Taking a longer-term perspective, the July 2012 participation rate was 17.0 percentage points below the peak rate for that month in 1989 (77.5 percent)."

"The July 2012 labor force participation rate for 16- to 24-year-old men was 63.2 percent. The rate for young women was 57.8 percent. From 1948, when the series began, to 1989, the July labor force participation rate for young men showed no clear trend, ranging from 81 to 86 percent. Since 1989, however, their July participation rate has trended down, falling by about 20 percentage points. The July labor force participation rate for young women peaked in 1989 at 72.4 percent, following a long-term upward trend. The participation rate of young women has fallen by about 15 percentage points since 1989."

"The youth labor force participation rate for whites was 62.9 percent in July 2012, compared with 54.5 percent for blacks, 43.7 percent for Asians, and 57.1 percent for Hispanics."

Youth Employment

"Employment for 16- to 24-year-olds reached 19.5 million in July 2012, up 2.1 million since April. In 2011, youth employment rose by 1.7 million from April to July. The July 2012 employment-population ratio for youth—the proportion of the 16- to 24-year-old civilian noninstitutional population with a job—was 50.2 percent, up from July 2011. (See table 2.)"

"In July 2012, the youth employment-population ratio for men was 51.9 percent, and the ratio for women was 48.4 percent. The ratio for whites was 53.5 percent, compared with 38.9 percent for blacks, 37.4 percent for Asians, and 46.5 percent for Hispanics."

"Twenty-six percent of employed youth worked in the leisure and hospitality sector (which includes food services) in July 2012, the same proportion as in July 2011. Another 19 percent of employed youth worked in the retail trade industry in July 2012, down slightly from the proportion in July 2011. (See table 3.)"

Youth Unemployment

"The number of unemployed youth in July 2012 was 4.0 million, little changed from 4.1 million a year ago. The youth unemployment rate was 17.1 percent in July 2012. The unemployment rate for young men was 17.9 percent, in July 2012, and the rate for women was 16.2 percent. The jobless rate for whites was 14.9 percent, compared with 28.6 percent for blacks, 14.4 percent for Asians, and 18.5 percent for Hispanics. (See table 2.)"

LINK:  www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/youth.pdf