Unexpectedly Intriguing!
15 March 2010

February 2010 saw some improvements in employment with surprising demographic beneficiaries for the month: young adults and teens!

Change in Number of Employed by Age Group Since Total Employment Peak Reached in November 2007, as of February 2010 Compared to January 2010, some 308,000 more individuals were counted as being employed in the Current Population Survey. Of these, 104,000 (33.8%) were young adults between the ages of 20 and 24 and 64,000 (20.8%) were teens between the ages of 16 and 19.

These figures are especially significant given that the percentage share of young adults within the whole U.S. civilian labor force is just 9.0%, while teens account for just 3.2% of all U.S. workers. Both percentage shares represent a slight increase over the all-time lows recorded in January 2010.

The timing of the improvement for teens and young adults corresponds well with anecdotal data indicating that firms go through a 3-to-6 month adjustment period following a minimum wage increase regarding the primary effects of minimum wage increases upon employment levels. Since teens and young adults represent approximately half of all those who earn the minimum wage, the bottoming out of each age group's percentage representation within the entire U.S. workforce in the six months after the final of the recent series of minimum wage increases was to be expected.

With no additional increases in the federal minimum wage scheduled to take place in the near future, we would now anticipate that teens and young adults will now disproportionately benefit by taking a disproportionately larger share of newly filled jobs as compared to older workers.

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