So while fewer kids are scooping ice cream and bagging groceries for the summer, more are spending their weeks off on schoolwork or unpaid labor. Youth employment might be down, but we hardly need to be wringing our hands about the laziness of the next generation. Still, there is one extremely worrisome trend in the data: the youth unemployment number—the proportion of kids who want jobs but cannot get them. The recession inflated the rate of youth unemployment to levels unseen since modern record-taking started in the 1940s. It currently stands at 24.2 percent, and more than 40 percent for black teens. A substantial body of economic literature shows that bouts of unemployment prove particularly corrosive for young workers, leading to reduced earnings and further joblessness down the road. So forget the kids who don't want to work. Worry about the kids who do.
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