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Youth Unemployment

The percentage of young adults ages 16 through 24 who are unemployed.

Percentage of 16 – 24 Year Olds Unemployed, by Calendar Year
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
MD 19.8% 19.6% 18.7% 16.8% 16.2%

Data Source: American Community Survey, 1 Year Estimates

Story Behind the Data:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics defined “unemployed” youth as those who have actively sought employment during the last four weeks and currently are available to work.  This definition does not include youth enrolled in job training programs or other “passive” methods of connecting with potential employers, such as reading job listings.

The number of 16- to 24-year-olds who are unemployed jumped following the recession. While it is beginning to descend, the rate remains higher than pre-recession levels.  Maryland’s youth unemployment rate is more than three times that of its adult unemployment rate, (4.9%).*  There are many reasons why young people are failing to enter Maryland’s adult workforce, including skills mismatch between the skills that employers want and the skills that youth have, stiff competition with more experienced adults for entry-level or unskilled jobs, and individual barriers such as lack of high school diploma or GED, caring for young children, transitioning from systems, lack of transportation, or substance use, to name just a few.**  The changing nature of the workforce has rapidly eliminated unskilled jobs; jobs that did not require a high school diploma will decrease from 72% in 1973 to an estimated 37% in 2018.


*American Community Survey, 2015
**See Report of the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission.  2014 Interim Report. a/k/a The Report of the Augustine Commission.  See also: Annie E. Casey Foundation. Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity. 2012.