Unemployment remains high in Eagle County | VailDaily.com

Unemployment remains high in Eagle County

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Unemployment is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re a kid.

While the national unemployment rate held steady in August at an anemic 9.1 percent, the share of young people who wanted to work this summer but could not find a job was the highest on record, 25.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday.

As the Labor Day weekend started, Colorado’s teen unemployment rate was 26.4 percent teen in July, said Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute.

Add discouraged teen workers, those who want to work but cannot find a job, and Colorado’s teen unemployment rate is 27.2 percent, Saltsman said.

Among African American teens the unemployment rate is 46.5 percent, Saltsman said.

“That’s astounding. It’s becoming a crisis that we’ve grown accustomed to,” Saltsman said. “We’re on the third summer of this and we’ve come to the point where we’ve failed to be shocked by it.”

He sees the same reaction, or lack of reaction, to the national unemployment numbers. The August numbers were released Friday and remained at 9.1 percent.

“This month’s unemployment statistics are dire,” Saltsman said.

Although it’s tough to nail down statistically, teens are probably facing more competition from adults for part-time jobs, Saltsman said.

“If an employer has to choose between a 16-year-old and an adult with some experience, they’ll go with the more experienced worker,” Saltsman said.

Some of those entry-level jobs no longer exist, Saltsman said. For example, grocery stores don’t generally hire teenagers to bag groceries.

“It becomes more attractive, financially, to have the customer do it themselves,” Saltsman said. “That’s true for restaurants bussing tables and any number of other jobs.”

Unemployment increased by 745,000 for 16-24 year-olds between April and July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2010, the increase over the same time period was 571,000.

The summer unemployment rate for 16-24 year-olds was 17.8 percent, slightly lower than last summer.

“This has been another summer of lost opportunities for our nation’s young people,” Saltsman said. “The combined impacts of the Great Recession and increases in the minimum wage in states and at the federal level have locked thousands out of the labor market. As a result, the next generation is missing out on the life lessons that come from an entry-level job.”

Labor Day’s labor woes

Unemployment in Eagle, Pitkin, Garfield counties continue to run at almost double pre-recession levels, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

In Eagle County, 2,451 workers were unemployed in July, an 8 percent unemployment rate in a workforce of 30,472, labor statistics show.

Colorado’s unemployment rate is holding steady at 8.5 percent, down from 8.8 percent in July 2010, the state labor department says.

The leisure and hospitality category added the most jobs. Construction shed the most jobs.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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