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Record number of young Americans jobless


Applicants fill out forms during a job fair at the Southeast LA-Crenshaw WorkSource Center in Los Angeles November 20, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Applicants fill out forms during a job fair at the Southeast LA-Crenshaw WorkSource Center in Los Angeles November 20, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. economic recession has taken a particularly heavy toll on young Americans, with a record one out of 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, an 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 an 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," said Joseph McLaughlin of Northeastern University, who worked on the report.

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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