Press "Enter" to skip to content

Teen Unemployment

Teenage unemployment is triple the overall average, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In February 2015, unemployment for those 16-19 was 17.1%, compared to the overall jobless rate of 5.5%. These numbers have improved from a year earlier, where the rate was 23.3% for teens, and 6.7% overall. Similarly, the age of the workforce is getting older. The percentage of those ages 14-18 who were working in 2014 fell from 2% of the overall workforce from 4% in 2001.

The MarketWatch article cites that slow population growth and a weak economic climate are the primary reason for this drop in teen employment. Additionally, millennials are taking on an increasing share of the jobs formerly held by teens. Specifically, 51% of employed class of 2014 college grads are in jobs that do not require a college degree, and 30% of employers are hiring more college-educated workers for roles primarily held by high school graduates.

This matters because of its potential long-term impact. Accordingly, 20 hours of part-time work per week during a senior year of high school can result in annual earnings 20% higher six to nine years after graduation, versus those who didn’t work.

The article also mentions that the drop in teen employment may be because teens are not bothering to look for jobs, and are spending an increasing amount of time on social media.

What do you all think? Do you think that the drop in teen employment is due to a weak economic climate, or simply that teens are more interested in playing on their cell phones/ a cultural issue? And even more importantly, do you all think that this statistic matters?







  1. cookg15 cookg15

    I think that this is mostly the result of the current economic climate, and in time teen employment will return to its traditional normal levels. I think the effect of the Great Recession are still being felt, with college educated workers taking jobs at least part-time that are traditionally held by teens. It’s possible that employers have simply increased their minimum hiring standards as the supply of college students and graduates has increased. Perhaps this trend will continue with many low wage employers of teens (like fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s) recently raising their minimum wage, and thereby being more motivated to hire better quality workers, but I think that overall the current employment trend is an aberration.

  2. moorem15 moorem15

    I’m not so sure about the implication of causation between teen social media use and unemployment. In my mind, a more likely scenario is that teens use social media so much because of high teen unemployment, not the other way around.

  3. I looked at data that show an increase in schooling in the teen bracket, but since I’ve never used the data before, I’m not sure how to interpret it – the change is large, but so is the change in employment. If you look at age 20-24 there’s also a very large drop in employment, but also a rise in schooling. Both shifts suggest people would prefer work.

    From this one number we also don’t know what exactly “employment” means – how many are full-time?

  4. grieve grieve

    Do these numbers include internships or unpaid internships? Also, what about jobs like mowing lawns for a summer or being a dog walker? I’m not sure if those get counted in studies like this.

  5. winn winn

    Could this have something to do with the recent number of companies that are raising their employee’s base wages? Are teenagers being squeezed out in favor of more qualified and experienced workers who are taking these jobs that are historically reserved for those new to the labor force?

Comments are closed.