Unemployment among young men in Idaho growing

Minh and Tony Le are brothers who took different career paths but landed in the same spot this year — in a growing pool of unemployed young men in Idaho.

A Statesman analysis of federal jobless numbers shows that, while the state’s entire workforce is hurting, young men are getting the worst of it.

Unemployment among Idaho men ages 20 to 24 almost quintupled between 2007 and 2009, going from 4.2 percent to 20.2 percent. In Idaho, a national trend was amplified. The U.S. unemployment average for that group was 9 percent in 2007 and 17 percent in 2009 — starting worse and ending better compared to Idaho.

Last year brought a slight improvement: About 18 percent of Idaho men in their early 20s were out of work. Still, that was twice the state average.

Their stories point to a few reasons for the problem in the Treasure Valley: more-experienced competition, the obstacle of criminal records among some young men, and lack of college degrees.

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