WASHINGTON — U.S. teenagers got back to work in February.
Teens typically have one of the country's highest unemployment rates. Many of them are busy attending school and have limited hours available for work or must compete with adults for jobs.
But 86,000 more teenagers found work last month, and their unemployment rate slipped to 17.1 percent from 18.8 percent in January, the Labor Department said Friday.
The gains reversed a sharp jump in teenage unemployment in January. And they are consistent with a trend over the past 12 months.
The turnaround in teenage hiring points to an economic recovery that has steadily strengthened as it approaches its sixth year. Employers added 295,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate dipped to 5.5 percent, the lowest level since May 2008.
Most other demographic groups benefited from the hiring last month. Unemployment rates dipped for college graduates, people with some college education and those who still have yet to complete high school. The jobless rate also tumbled for prime-age workers between 25 and 54.
Unemployment did tick up two-tenths of a percentage point for 20-to-24-year-olds, a group likely to be enrolled in college. The rate also climbed slightly for African-Americans. But that was largely because more of them started looking for jobs last month — which is generally a positive for economic growth.
|Unemployment rate by group:|
|(Numbers in percentages)||February 2015||January 2015||February 2014|
|20-24 years old||10||9.8||11.9|
|25-54 years old||4.6||4.8||5.7|
|55 and over||4.3||4.1||4.6|
|Veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan*||6.7||7.9||9.2|
|No high school diploma||8.4||8.5||9.8|
|High school graduate||5.4||5.4||6.4|
|Duration of Unemployment:|
|Average length (weeks)||31.7||32.3||36.9|
|Jobless 6 months of more (pct.)||31.1||31.5||36.8|
|* Not seasonally adjusted|
|Source: Labor Department|