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With foreign workers filling jobs traditionally held by teenagers and young adults, the Washington Post reports today that the youth jobless rate for June was at its highest level in the last 60 years, according to a new study. Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies analyzed Labor Department data and found that only 37 percent of teenagers ages 16 to 19 were employed nationwide, compared with 51 percent in June 2000. The study was prepared by Andrew Sum, who contends that competition for low-skill summer jobs is tough for youths because they face extraordinary competition from illegal aliens, other foreign workers, college grads not yet working in their fields, laid-off workers and older workers.

Please read NumbersUSA Executive Director Roy Beck’s blog -- In the Berkshires, Americans Do These Jobs – for more background on the link between high immigration levels and joblessness among teens and young adults.

A study of 10 major cities prepared by the Center in April, 2008 determined that the youth joblessness rate was highest in Washington, D.C. (86%), followed by Chicago (85%), and Detroit and New York (tied at 82%). Sum’s study measured the proportion of teenagers and young adults who are working. As a result, his figures are higher than Labor Department unemployment statistics, which measure the proportion of people actively looking for work. The following quotes from Sum included in the Post article provide some insight into why his choice of measurement is the better one:

“Not all kids want to work, but when kids can't find work, they stop looking…The kids who need work the most are getting it the least. There are a large number of kids unemployed and underemployed because there are simply not enough jobs for them…In the 1990s, teens benefited more than the average worker from the employment boom, with one out of every 10 new jobs…But teenagers did not get one net new job between 2003 and 2007. That's the first time that has happened in 40 years."

Sum concludes youths can’t pick up these new jobs because of competition from illegal aliens and other adults that take the low-paying service jobs. Their plight has worsened because of the economy’s shift away from high-wage manufacturing.

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Updated: Fri, Oct 31st 2008 @ 2:57pm EDT