Youth unemployment during the Great Recession rose dramatically, and youth became one of the segments of our population that suffered the greatest barriers to entering and remaining in the labor force. 

Because early career planning with youth is so critical for setting them on a self-sufficient career path, informing yourself about dynamics and forces affecting youth in the labor force is important.

Youth and the Labor Force - See the Impact

The U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued an analysis, entitled “Youth and the Labor Force:Background and Trends,” examining employment, unemployment, earnings, and educational attainment trends among youth aged 16 to 24.

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CRS concluded, “Both…indicators [decreasing youth employment-to-population ratios and increasing youth unemployment] demonstrate that the labor market for youth is at historic lows in terms of opportunity.”  Youth employment-to-population ratios continued to erode even when the economy began to grow after the 2001 recession. [pp. 2, 17]

Among those who were not in the labor force, 12.1 percent nonetheless wanted to work — such individuals who want to work, but often don't believe jobs are available, are commonly referred to as “discouraged workers.” [p. 5]

The research evidence suggests that youth who experience unemployment appear to have relatively lower long-term wages. [p. 25]

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Entering the Labor Force during a Recession - Use the Data

Youth entering the labor force during a recession may take entry-level jobs at lower wages during non-recessionary periods, which sets them on a lower wage level trajectory. 

If their earnings starting point is significantly lower on the income scale to begin with, then some youth may not make up the lifetime earnings difference during their working life.

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For data on how Youth are impacted in the labor force, please see the most current Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) news release and data tables.

The BLS National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) are a set of surveys designed to gather information at multiple points in time of several groups of young men and women.

Barriers Faced by Disadvantaged Youth - Employ the Strategies

Disadvantaged and vulnerable youth need multiple strategies and service components to succeed in the world of work.  

Studies show that a holistic approach with resources, supportive services, and the dedicated commitment of caring adult, can lead to self-sufficiency for young people.

See the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Four Ways to Reduce Youth Unemployment for strategies to increase youth labor market success.