Unexpectedly Intriguing!
October 11, 2010

The household survey portion of the BLS' September 2010 employment situation report delivered news we were surprised to see: the number of teens counted as being employed plunged by 112,000. Meanwhile, young adults saw their employed ranks increase by 3,000 while the number of individuals Age 25 or older counted as having jobs surged by 250,000.

Change in Number of Employed by Age Group Since Total Employment Peak Reached in November 2007, through September 2010

For teens, the decrease in the number of employed teens in September 2010 brings the percentage share of teens within the entire U.S. workforce to a new all-time low of 3.06%:

Age 16-19 Percentage of Total Employed, Since January 2005, Through September 2010

To put this new record low in teen employment in perspective, since their employment numbers peaked at 6,241,000 in November 2006, the number of teens (Age 16-19) in the U.S. workforce has fallen by 1,980,000, or 31.7% of that peak figure:

Percentage of Number Employed for Age 16-19 and Age 20+ from Levels Recorded in November 2006, Through September 2010

Comparing how older workers have fared since the now officially declared end of the recession in June 2009, teens are still following a downward trajectory. That experience contrasts with the rebound in the jobs situation for older Americans, where also see that changes in overall employment levels tend to lag changes in the United States' economic situation by 6-7 months:

Change in Number of Employed Individuals, Age 16-19 and Age 20+, Since Teen Employment Peak in November 2006, Through September 2010

When we look at the unemployment rate for teens, which we find to have averaged 26.0% +/- 0.6% during the previous six months (since March 2010), we recognize that teens are not losing jobs, so much as the kinds of jobs that teens are capable of doing are not being created. Otherwise, if jobs were really being lost, we would see the teen unemployment rate rise over time.

This lack of job creation suggests that U.S. employers are anticipating higher costs of doing business in the future, for which teens are paying the price today with fewer jobs being made available for these lowest skilled, least educated, least experienced members of the U.S. workforce. In effect, they are being priced out of the job market in favor of older, more skilled, more educated and more experienced Americans who can deliver the higher productivity needed to overcome the expected higher costs of doing business.


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