Unexpectedly Intriguing!
17 December 2009

For the first time since April 2009 and the second time since April 2008, the overall employment situation improved in the United States in November 2009. Even for teens!

Number, Average Annual Number of Employed Individuals Age 16-19 Between January 2006 and November 2009 Compared to the previous month's data, the BLS' Labor Force Statistics indicate that 10,000 additional teens were counted as being employed than in the previous month, bringing that portion of the U.S. labor force up to 4,462,000. In October 2009, some 4,452,000 individuals Age 16-19 were counted as working, which marks the lowest point for U.S. teens since their employment levels began declining steadily in January 2007.

Compared to the peak of teen employment of June 2006 of 6,244,000, some 1,782,000 teen jobs, or 28.5%, have disappeared from the U.S. economy. Taking the average of the teen employment level for the year of 2009 through November, teen employment has declined by an average of 1,258,705 from its 2006 year-long average of 6,161,250.

Change in Number of Employed by Age Group Since Total Employment Peak Reached in November 2007 (as of November 2009) Since December 2007, which the National Bureau of Economic Research declared to be the peak of the previous expansion of the U.S. economy, making it the starting point for recession, the employment level for teens Age 16-19 has fallen by 1,399,000, representing 17.1% of the total decline of 8,163,000 jobs since the latest recession began as of November 2009. That compares with 1,529,000 for young adults of Age 20-24, who account for 19.0% of that decline. Together, individuals Age 16-24 represent 36.1% of all jobs lost since the declared beginning of the recession.

As a percentage of the entire U.S. labor force in November 2009 of 138,502,000, teens represent 3.22% and young adults Age 20-24 account for 8.99% of the total. Those Age 16-19 are therefore 5.3 times more likely to have been affected by job loss during the recession than their percentage representation in the U.S. workforce would suggest, while those Age 20-24 are 2.1 times as likely.

Of course, there's a reason for that!...

Percentage of Individuals Earning the Federal Minimum Wage or Less by Age Group, 2008

The good news is that at least one economist at the University of Chicago has begun to catch on to why teens and young adults would seem to be so disproportionately affected by disappearing jobs. Oddly, the economist only seems to think that it only became an issue in July 2009. Rather than, say, January 2007, when the people who might hire teens and young adults began reacting to the situation that developed by not creating jobs for these youngest, least educated and least experienced potential members of the U.S. workforce:

Percentage of Number Employed for Age 16-19 and Age 20+ from Levels Recorded in June 2006 (as of November 2009)

It's an odd thing, this kind of economic myopia!

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