A Closer Look

Teen Labor Force Participation in US – Their low rates of participation is continuing

Teen labor force participation has been on a long-term downward trend, and the decline is expected to continue to 2024, the latest year for which projections are available. A number of factors are contributing to this trend: an increased emphasis toward school and attending college among teens, reflected in higher enrollment; more summer school attendance; and more strenuous coursework. Parental emphasis on the rewards of education has contributed to the decline in teen labor force participation. Tuition costs have continued to rise dramatically, as has borrowing to pay for college. Taxpayers can qualify for tax credits to help defray tuition costs. Teen earnings are low and pay little toward the costs of college. In a teenager’s 24-hour day, except for sleeping, school activities take up the largest amount of time. Teens who do in fact want jobs face competition from older workers, young college graduates, and foreign-born workers. This article examines labor force participation trends for teens ages 16‒19, using data from the Current Population Survey. The article also examines labor force projections data from the Employment Projections program the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, labor force participation of teens has been declining since 1979, and their low rates of labor force participation continued into the recovery period following the latest recession. In particular, teen participation during the summer has dropped dramatically. School enrollment has increased, especially during the summer months, and enrollment affects the participation of teenagers in the labor force. Along with the increased emphasis toward college, coursework has also become more strenuous in high school. In addition, teens spend much of their time on school activities—only sleeping accounts for more time in a teenager’s day. Teens who do want jobs may face competition from others for the types of jobs they typically hold. As for the future, the labor force participation rate for teens is projected to decline further in 2024, according to the latest BLS projections.
via Teen labor force participation before and after the Great Recession and beyond : Monthly Labor Review: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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