February Job Report: Rising Youth Unemployment Concerns Economists

February's job report is a mixed bag for the U.S. economy, showing both strong points and areas that need a closer look.

by Faruk Imamovic
SHARE
February Job Report: Rising Youth Unemployment Concerns Economists
© Getty Images/Spencer Platt

February's job report is a mixed bag for the U.S. economy, showing both strong points and areas that need a closer look. On one hand, we've got a bunch of new jobs and people working more hours, which sounds great. It shows the economy's got some muscle.

But when you dig a bit deeper, not everything's looking so rosy.

The Good Stuff: More Jobs and More Hours

One of the big wins in the report was the 275,000 new jobs added, which is a big deal. It's not just about the numbers, either.

Jobs are popping up in all kinds of places, showing that this growth isn't just stuck in one spot. Plus, the report tells us that private jobs, if you leave out health care and social work, have hit a +120,000 average. That's almost twice as good as it was back in November.

People are working more hours, and the total money earned each week is going up by 0.6%, which means folks should have a bit more cash to spend.

The Worries: Young People Struggling to Find Work

However, it's not all sunshine.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.9%, and it looks like young people aged 16-24 are having a tough time. Their unemployment rate shot up to 8.8%, which is a 1.5 percentage point jump from January. On the flip side, for folks 25 and older, things are looking up, with 326,000 new jobs taking them to a new high, and their unemployment rate staying steady.

This situation with younger workers is pretty unusual. We haven't seen something like this happen without also seeing a rise in unemployment for older folks in over 35 years. Even though history suggests this might just be a temporary blip for the young'uns, it's something we've got to keep an eye on.

Sometimes, problems with youth employment can give us a heads-up about bigger issues on the horizon.

What's Next? Economic Plans Stay the Course

Despite these mixed signals, the folks in charge of setting interest rates haven't changed their plans.

They're still thinking of cutting rates in July and are predicting cuts in the next couple of years too. While we're steering through these uncertain times, the job market's toughness and the potential for people to have more money in their pockets are comforting.

But, we've got to stay sharp, especially when it comes to helping young people find jobs, to keep the economy on track.

SHARE