Unexpectedly Intriguing!
September 24, 2008

We were inspired by King Banaian's recent Graph of the Day showing the post-peak change in employment to dig deeper into the most recent jobs decline. Specifically, we wanted to see if any one particular age group was being disproportionately impacted by the recent downturn.

Unfortunately, we couldn't dig very far into King's data - he was looking at the change in Non-Farm Payroll employment figures since they peaked in December 2007, for which the data is not broken out by age group.

But we could dig deeper using the BLS' archived data for the total employment figures, which specifically breaks out the employment data for those Age 16-19 in the monthly employment situation reports! Here, total employment in the U.S. peaked in November 2007 at 146,647,000 employed individuals, of which, 5,832,000 are between Age 16 and 19, or just under 4.0% of the total.

For reference, the U.S. unemployment rate in November 2007 stood at 4.7%. As of August 2008, the unemployment rate has risen to 6.1%. The chart below shows the post-peak employment change in the number of employed individuals for these months, and each month in between:

Change in Number of Employed by Age Group Since Total Employment Peaked in November 2007

As of August 2008, we see that the total U.S. workforce has declined by 1,170,000 since peaking in November 2007. We also see that 269,000 of this figure is accounted for by a decline in the number of teens Age 16-19 in the U.S. workforce, or 23% of the total numerical decline in the recorded data. A pretty remarkable accomplishment for a group that represents just 4.0% of the total!

There's more to this story as teen jobs have been in decline since they peaked in May 2006, but we'll cover that in an upcoming post....

Update 24 September 2008: Corrected quantities and chart! Here's the original paragraph we've since edited:

As of August 2008, we see that the total U.S. workforce has declined by 931,000 since peaking in November 2007. We also see that 269,000 of this figure is accounted for by a decline in the number of teens Age 16-19 in the U.S. workforce, or 30% of the total numerical decline in the recorded data. A pretty remarkable accomplishment for a group that represents just 4.0% of the total!

The original chart is here....

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