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Fewer Teens Find Work than at Any Time since World War II


Fewer Teens Find Work than at Any Time since World War II
Brookings Study Shows Recent Collapse in Opportunity  

(Washington, D.C.) – According to a recent study by the Brookings Institution, the teen employment rate in the United States has fallen dramatically in recent years. Between 2000 and 2011, the percentage of teens aged 16-19 who were working fell from 45 percent to just 26 percent. This is a new low in the post-World War II era. The study has a number of important ramifications. Young people have a harder and harder time acquiring work experience when they are young – making them less competitive in the eyes of employers later on. They also work in a much smaller range of industries than they did before – often just retail, trade, and fast food. They are also now more likely to compete with adults for minimum wage positions. 

Furthermore, the drop in employment came primarily among lower-income families. About 26-28 percent of teens whose parents earned more than $40,000 a year were employed; for teens whose parents earned less, fewer than 20 percent were working. While teens in lower-income families might have more need of an independent source of income, they are less likely to find employment. Instead, the children of higher-income earners more often enjoy those benefits.

Daniel Garza, Executive Director of The LIBRE, Initiative released the following statement:

"How much evidence do we need that our economy needs the serious attention of the leadership in Washington? It seems that with each passing day, more Americans join the ranks of the long-term unemployed, more are forced to give up full-time work for part-time, and more are fighting to retain a minimum-wage job instead of climbing the ladder of economic success. It's far past time for change.

As Washington spending and regulation has run almost out of control, there is less economic opportunity for all. Teens can't break into entry-level jobs. College graduates can't earn enough to pay back loans. Middle-aged workers can't save for retirement. Millions of Americans would be far better off if the President took the lead on an agenda aimed at restraining spending, reducing counterproductive regulation, and allowing entrepreneurs to create jobs again. It is time for a change in course."

For interviews with a LIBRE representative, please contact: Brian Faughnan, 703-678-4581 or Steven Cruz, 202-578-6173.