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THE CONTINUED COLLAPSE OF THE TEEN JOB MARKET: Summer Employment Rates Among Teens Expected to be Lowest in Sixty Years of Counting

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“Less work experience today leads to less work experience tomorrow and lower earnings down the road. Disadvantaged teens who work in high school are more likely to remain in high school than their peers who do not work.”

The average monthly number of unemployed persons during the January–March period was 600,000 higher than a year ago. And, according to The Continued Collapse of the Nation’s Teen Job Market and the Dismal Outlook for the 2008 Summer Labor Market for Teens: Does Anybody Care?, a new report from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, the deterioration of the national labor market has accelerated the collapse of the teen job market across the country.

The report finds that teen employment rates have been declining sharply since late 2006, well before the national job market began to decline, and the drop has accelerated in recent months. During the first three months of 2008, only 33.5 percent of teenagers (ages sixteen through nineteen) were employed in any type of job during an average month—the lowest recorded since the government started counting in 1948 and a drop of 3.6 percentage points since 2006.

The report notes that job losses for teens over the past eight years have been quite severe for nearly all demographics, but especially for the nation’s sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds, males, African Americans, Hispanic, and low-income youth. “Low-income, black, and Hispanic teens face the equivalent of a Great Depression,” the report reads.

The report cites several reasons why teen employment is important for the nation, including gaining more experience and higher earnings down the road. “The more teens work this year, the more they work next year,” it reads. “Less work experience today leads to less work experience tomorrow and lower earnings down the road. Disadvantaged teens who work in high school are more likely to remain in high school than their peers who do not work.” It adds that teens who work in high school have an easier time transitioning into the labor market after graduation and that pregnancy rates for teens are lower in metropolitan areas where employment rates for teen girls are higher.

The report says that the outlook for the nation’s teens for the summer 2008 job market is even worse than last year and predicts that the summer teen employment rate will be 34.2 percent, which is below last year’s historical low and 11 percentage points below 2000’s summer employment rate. “Our summer jobs outlook poses serious problems for many teens hoping to find work this summer,” the report reads. “Younger teens, males, black and Hispanic youth, and low-income youth are most at-risk of joblessness this coming summer.”

Complete Report

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