Youth Unemployment Rate, Figures by State

The youth unemployment rate for those between the ages of 16 and 24 was around 8 percent in early 2017. Typically teenagers report the highest rates of unemployment. Those in their early 20s are more likely to be working, but their status often depends more on whether they remain in school.

The Labor Department's preliminary annual estimates for 2016 are shown in the table below. States posting the highest youth unemployment rates were New Mexico (15.9 percent), Illinois (14.2 percent) and West Virginia (13.6 percent).

Youth Unemployment Rates By State: 2016 Annual Data

State Age 16-24 Age 16-19 Age 20-24
Alabama 12.3% 19.3% 10.0%
Alaska 11.9% 19.7% 9.2%
Arizona 11.1% 14.0% 9.9%
Arkansas 8.9% 13.6% 7.0%
California 10.3% 17.8% 8.0%
Colorado 6.5% 13.0% 4.2%
Connecticut 10.5% 15.6% 7.9%
Delaware 8.7% - 6.6%
District of Columbia 14.4% - 12.3%
Florida 10.1% 17.4% 7.7%
Georgia 13.4% 20.8% 10.8%
Hawaii 7.0% - 6.3%
Idaho 7.1% 11.0% 5.4%
Illinois 14.2% 19.6% 12.0%
Indiana 10.9% 15.8% 8.7%
Iowa 7.2% 7.4% 7.1%
Kansas 8.5% 8.9% 8.4%
Kentucky 9.9% 13.9% 8.3%
Louisiana 13.1% 20.3% 10.8%
Maine 8.9% - 7.3%
Maryland 9.9% 16.2% 7.7%
Massachusetts 6.7% 8.7% 6.0%
Michigan 10.6% 16.6% 8.4%
Minnesota 8.0% 10.1% 6.7%
Mississippi 12.6% 21.3% 9.9%
Missouri 10.4% 14.8% 8.1%
Montana 8.9% 11.1% 7.8%
Nebraska 6.3% 8.1% 5.3%
Nevada 9.7% 17.6% 6.7%
New Hampshire 6.1% 10.5% 4.2%
New Jersey 11.4% 15.2% 10.1%
New Mexico 15.9% 23.2% 12.9%
New York 10.5% 16.7% 8.5%
North Carolina 12.6% 17.3% 10.8%
North Dakota 6.3% - 5.3%
Ohio 10.9% 16.0% 8.5%
Oklahoma 11.9% 13.8% 11.2%
Oregon 12.4% 20.0% 9.6%
Pennsylvania 10.7% 16.5% 8.3%
Rhode Island 11.3% 16.2% 9.0%
South Carolina 10.5% 14.0% 9.2%
South Dakota 7.0% - 5.8%
Tennessee 10.3% 14.1% 8.9%
Texas 10.3% 15.6% 8.3%
Utah 6.0% 8.7% 4.7%
Vermont 7.2% 10.5% 5.5%
Virginia 9.6% 16.4% 6.9%
Washington 12.3% 20.5% 9.1%
West Virginia 13.6% 22.9% 10.3%
Wisconsin 6.5% 9.3% 5.2%
Wyoming 9.5% 15.1% 7.0%
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary 2016 estimates. Some age 16-19 estimates for smaller states were not published.

Youth unemployment steadily climbed during the recession, reaching a peak of 19.5 percent in April 2010. Some unemployed youth opted to stay in school to pad their resumes. Others couldn’t find work or weren’t willing to accept low-wage positions.

More recent national youth unemployment statistics suggest the outlook for younger workers has improved considerably since then. 

Other measures suggest younger workers have a much further way to go in the recovery, however. The employment-to-population ratio for younger workers had only recovered about halfway for its recession-era decline as of early 2017. Youth employment rates have returned to pre-recession averages in just four states.