Sanders: Youth unemployment a 'national tragedy'

Sanders: Youth unemployment a 'national tragedy'
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemanding transparency and fairness from Trump tax plan Overnight Energy: Trump orders review of national monuments, claiming ‘egregious abuse’ Dem rep: Trump's tax plan as believable as 'magic, unicorns or Batman' MORE (I-Vt.) on Monday called youth unemployment a “national tragedy.”

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“It is beyond comprehension that we, as a nation, have not focused attention on the fact that millions of young people are unable to find work and begin their careers in a productive economy,” the senator, who's seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, said in a statement. “We cannot turn our backs on this national tragedy.”

Sanders pointed to an Economic Policy Institute study he requested that showed the real unemployment rate for black high school graduates, ages 17 to 20, was more than 51 percent during the 12 months ending in March. The jobless rate for Hispanics in that age group was just under 34 percent.  

The study of Census data also found the real unemployment rate during that period for black college graduates, ages 21 to 24, was 23 percent. The rate for Hispanics was just over 22 percent and close to 13 percent for white college graduates.

Sanders said high unemployment among these demographic groups correlates to higher incarceration rates.

“The answer to unemployment and poverty is not and cannot be the mass incarceration of young African Americans,” he said.

The ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee is focusing his presidential campaign on the struggling middle class and sky-rocketing costs for college students, among other issues.

Last week, Sanders introduced a bill with Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) that would provide $5.5 billion to state and local governments to employ 1 million young people between the ages of 16 and 24.