Unexpectedly Intriguing!
March 8, 2011

For the first time since April 2010, the employment situation in the United States showed an actual improvement in February 2011, as the number of employed Americans rose to its highest level since that time.

Change in Number of Employed Individuals by Age Group Since Total Employment Peak in November 2007, as of February 2011

Here, the total number of individuals counted as being employed rose by 250,000 from January 2011's 139,323,000 to 139,573,000 in February 2011. Breaking that down by age group, the largest improvement was seen for individuals Age 25 or older, whose numbers in the U.S. workforce increased by 278,000, followed by young adults between the ages of 20 and 24, who saw their representation increase by 13,000.

However, the improvement in jobs was not up across the board, as these increases were offset by a reduction of 41,000 individuals between the ages of 16 and 19 in the U.S. workforce.

The Longer Term Perspective

Since the total employment level peaked in November 2007 a month ahead of the official beginning of the recession, the percentage representation of teens in the U.S. workforce has fallen by nearly a whole percentage point, from 4.03% to 3.08% as of February 2011. During that time, some 1,611,000 jobs for teens have been been lost from the U.S. job market, which accounts for 23.0% of the total of 7,011,000 jobs that have disappeared since.

The situation for young adults of ages 20 through 24 is similar. Here, while the percentage representation of these individuals within the U.S. workforce has fallen from 9.55% in November 2007 to 9.28% as of February 2011, young adults account for 1,045,000 of the total jobs lost over that time, or 14.9% of the total job loss.

Combined, teens and young adults from 16 through 24 years of age represent 37.9% of all jobs lost in the United States since November 2007, even though these individuals have not accounted for more than 13.31% of the U.S. non-institutional civilian labor force since the level of total employment peaked before the recession began.

What that suggests is that taking steps to correct the employment situation for teens and young adults would provide the biggest bang for the buck in bringing the U.S. unemployment rate back down to pre-recession levels.


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