Youth Employment Trends

How Many Youths Work?

During the summer of 2012, 19.5 million youths age 16 to 24 worked, up from 17.4 who were employed in April.

The youth labor force—16 to 24-year-olds working or actively looking for work—grows sharply between April and July each year. During these months, large numbers of high school and college students search for or take summer jobs, and many graduates enter the labor market to look for or begin permanent employment. In the summer of 2012, the youth labor force grew by 2.9 million, or 14.2%, to a total of 23.5 million in July. The labor force participation rate for all youth—the proportion of the population 16 to 24 years old working or looking for work—was 60.5% in July, up from July 2011. Taking a longer-term perspective, the July 2012 participation rate was 17.0 percentage points below the peak rate for that month in 1989 (77.5%).

In 2011, youth employment rose by 1.7 million from April to July, compared with the 2.1 million increase in 2012. The July 2012 employment-population ratio for youth—the proportion of the 16–24-year-old civilian noninstitutional population with a job–was 50.2%, up from July 2011. In July 2012, the youth employment-population ratio for men was 51.9%, and the ratio for women was 48.4%.

How Much Do Youths Earn?

The minimum wage often is associated with young workers first entering the labor force. CPS data indicate that earnings were above the minimum wage for most youths, with hourly earnings in the school and summer months about the same. The minimum wage was $7.25 in 2012.

Where Do Youths Work?

Just over one-quarter of employed youth worked in the leisure and hospitality sector (which includes food services) in July 2012, the same proportion as in July 2011. Another 19% of employed youth worked in the retail trade industry in July 2012, down slightly from the proportion in July 2011.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor.

Information Please® Database, © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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