Rising youth unemployment, along with racial and ethnic wage gaps, are warning signs of future economic trouble in Connecticut, according to a report issued by CT Voices for Children.
The report suggests Connecticut’s aging population will rely on the coming generation of young workers to fuel its economy, including a fast-growing Hispanic population.
“The health of our common economic future will depend on our success in broadening economic opportunities for young workers,” said Orlando Rodriguez in a release. Rodriguez is Senior Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children and co-author of the report.
Key findings of “The State of Working Connecticut: Young People in the Workforce,” which examined wage, unemployment, and job sector trends over the course of the recession and recovery:
- Youth unemployment has dramatically increased in Connecticut over the last decade .
- Youth unemployment is more than twice the rate for older workers.
In 2012, the unemployment rate for Connecticut’s young workers (age 16 to 24), at 17.1 percent, was more than double the rate for 25 to 54 year olds (7.4 percent) and almost triple the rate for workers 55 and older (6.4 percent), according to the report.
Connecticut’s youth unemployment rate is higher than the United States average (16.2 percent). It has been on the rise over the last dozen years, increasing dramatically during the recent recession. From a low of 5.6 percent in 2000, youth unemployment more than tripled to a high of 18.2 percent in 2011, then declined slightly in 2012.
A snapshot of the employment scenario in Connecticut:
- A smaller share of the working age population is working or looking for work, particularly among young people.
- Long-term unemployment for young people in Connecticut is higher than the national rate, though it is worst for older workers.
- Connecticut’s Black and Hispanic workers face high unemployment and low wages.
- Closing Connecticut’s opportunity gaps for young and minority workers will be necessary for the future economic health and quality of life in the state.
To begin to reverse these trends and broaden economic opportunities, Connecticut Voices urges the Governor and state legislators to:
- Strengthen access to high-quality early education and K through 12 education,
- Increase access to affordable public higher education and job training, and
- Invest in initiatives that provide incentives for low-income workers, reduce poverty and support families.
“The State of Working Connecticut” is released each year in partnership with the Economic Policy Institute (www.epi.org), an economic think tank based in Washington, DC.
Connecticut Voices for Children is a research-based think tank that works to advance policies that benefit the state’s children, youth and families. For more information on Connecticut Voices, or to read the Voices’ report, see www.ctvoices.org.