Unexpectedly Intriguing!
16 July 2013

In June 2013, the number of people Age 16 or older in the United States who were counted as having jobs rose by 160,000 to 144,058,000. The biggest gains were claimed by Americans between the ages of 20 and 24, who saw their numbers in the workforce increase by 193,000 to 13,605,000, while American teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 saw their seasonally-adjusted number in the workforce rise by just 24,000 to 4,469,000.

Unfortunately, the number of adult Americans (Age 25 and older) who were counted as having jobs fell by 57,000 to 125,984,000 in June 2013, which is why the net change in the number of employed Americans only rose by 160,000 from the previous month.

Our chart below shows the change in the number of employed Americans for each of these age groups since November 2007, which marked the most recent peak for the total number of employed Americans of 146,595,000:

Change in Number of Employed by Age Group Since Total Employment Peak Reached in November 2007 through June 2013

Compared to November 2007, there are 2,537,000 fewer Americans with jobs as of June 2013. Of these, teenagers make up the largest share, with 1,458,000 fewer employed teens making up 57% of the sustained job loss observed since that time. U.S. teens have gone from representing 4.04% of all American workers in November 2007 to just 3.10% in June 2013.

If it helps put the teen employment situation in context, June 2013's seasonally-adjusted increase of 24,000 teens with jobs would, according to the outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, represent the strongest start for teen summer employment in seven years.

To be fair, Challenger, Gray & Christmas' claim would appear to be based on the BLS' non-seasonally adjusted figures, which indicate that some 779,000 U.S. teens found jobs in June 2013. Overall, they claim that 994,000 teens have become employed since the "official" start of the summer jobs season with the Memorial Day holiday weekend in May.

The firm indicates that U.S. teens seeking work will have the best luck in finding summer employment in nontraditional jobs, such as at "trampoline centers, large bowling alleys with arcades, movie theaters offering full-service dining, and pools with water slides".

They also indicate that teens have been competing with older, displaced workers in the economic recovery. What they don't indicate is whether having raised the federal minimum wage by nearly 41% from June 2007 to July 2009 might have negatively affected whether U.S. employers could continue to afford to hire U.S. teens, who represent the least skilled, least educated and least experienced portion of the entire U.S. workforce, at the higher wage levels mandated by the U.S. government or in those states that have set even higher minimum wage levels.

Odd how the seasonally-adjusted total number of employed teenagers just hasn't budged much at all since the U.S. job market absorbed the impact of the last federal minimum wage hike in the months following its implementation, isn't it?

Data Reference

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. June 2013 Employment Situation Report. [PDF Document]. 5 July 2013.


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