U.S. Teenagers Spurn Working As School Takes Priority

Career College Central summary:

  • Unemployment among 16-to-19-year-olds stands at more than three times the rate for all workers. At the same time, more teens are forsaking paid positions to concentrate on getting into college.
  • Just one in three teens in the U.S. worked or looked for a job in January, a record-low since 1948 when the Labor Department data starts. That lack of on-the-job experience could cost future workers, who may lag behind on basic skills their parents developed waiting tables or running registers, some economists say.
  • “Work experience complements skill, and the combination of the two is more valuable than either one alone,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “It is more difficult to get going, to get onto the on-ramp, in the American economy than it used to be.”
  • Teen labor-force participation plummeted during the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009 and has continued to fall, accelerating a two-decade-long decline. The drop started in the 1990s as college enrollment rates climbed. In January, 33.3 percent of those ages 16 to 19 were in the workforce, compared with 59.3 percent in 1978, the highest share on record.
  • The share of 16-to-19-year-olds who cited going to school as their reason for not working rose to 89 percent in 2012 from 87.7 percent in 2000, based on the Boston Fed study’s analysis of Current Population Survey data.

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