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The Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report for July, released last week, showed a continuation of the steady economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic for most demographic groups in the U.S.—but not Black teenagers, for whom the unemployment rate increased from 9.3% in June to 13.3% in July (August 9, 2021 Brookings Institute).

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Unemployment among black teenagers is an astounding 40.6%, and was as high as 50% last year. If discouraged workers – that is, those who have given up seeking employment – are also included in this calculation, the number of black teenagers without work rises to 70% – 80%.

A 2014 Harris Poll indicated that soft and hard skills were equally important to 77 percent of employers, while 16 percent said they prized soft skills even more highly than the tangible talents that commonly pack a resumé.

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