10 January 2010

Students Working Less

Fewer people are employed in the current recession. Youth employment has been particularly hard hit. High school age youths are dramatically less likely to be employed, and employment is down among college aged youths.

Not all of this is recession driven, however. It is a longer term trend. Prior to the 2001 recession, a majority of youths aged 16-19 had jobs. This has fallen steadily, in good times and bad, to about a quarter of the youths that age. More youths are staying in school and more of them are avoiding other employment while in school.

The big change appears to be that those in school have become increasingly less attached to the labor market. . . labor force participation by those aged between 16 and 24 not enrolled in school has declined only modestly—from 82 percent to 80 percent between 1989 and 2008.

Apparently, middle class kids are emulating their upper middle class peers, in focusing more on school, and less on trying to earn money when their earning capacity is low, leaving only working class youths working, as they must, out of necessity.

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