The past decade in the United States (2000-2010) has been referred to by a number of economists and other social scientists as a “lost decade”.1 The total number of wage and salary payroll jobs in the private and public sectors combined in the nation in 2010 was lower than it was in 2000. This compares to gains of 19 million and 22 million jobs, respectively, in the prior two decades, Both median real household and family income in the nation failed to register any increase over the decade and income inequality tended to worsen.
Employment opportunities for working-age Americans (16 and older) varied considerably across age groups over this time period. This phenomenon has been referred to by the authors in several previous papers as the Great Age Twist in Employment Rates.2 It is a truly unique historical labor market phenomenon for the United States. Over the 1999-2000 to 2010-2011 time period, the employment rates of working age Americans in each single age group under 57 years of age declined while those of adults 57 and older increased. The percentage point sizes of these reductions in employment rates tended to rise as the age of the potential worker declined, being highest by far for teens(16-19) and then young adults 20-24 years of age. This paper is devoted to an analysis of changes in the employment rates of U.S. teens (16-19) over the 2000-2012 time period. The paper also will examine variations in these teen employment rates across age, gender, race-ethnic and family income groups. Findings on teen employment rates in the US over the 2000-2012 time period will be compared to those of their counterparts in 30 other OECD countries. Results will be provided for all teens and for men and women separately. Changes in the U.S. rankings of teen employment rates across these OECD countries over the 2000-2012 period also will be presented.
A following section of this paper is devoted to changes in the employment rates of young adults (20-24) in the U.S. and these other OECD countries over the same 2000-2012 time period. Findings again will be displayed for all young adults in the U.S. and for men and women separately. To illustrate the importance of early teen employment, findings of a multiple regression analysis of the 2012 employment rates of young adults in 34 OECD countries and those of Russia and South Africa will be presented. The predictor variables in this model of young adult employment include their teen employment rate five years earlier (2007) and the aggregate rate of unemployment in their nation in 2012.
1See: (i) Menzie Chin and Jeffrey Frieden, Lost Decade: The Making of America’s Debt Crisis and the Long Recovery, W.W.Norton and Company,2011; (ii) Carl Van Horn et al, Working Scared or Not Working at All: The Lost Decade, Great Recession, and Restoring the American Dream, Rowman and Little, New York, 2012.
2 For earlier findings on this Great Age Twist, see: (i) Andrew Sum and Ishwar Khatiwada with Sheila Palma, “ The Age Twist in Employment Rates 2000-2004 ”Challenge, July-August 2005,pp.51-68; (ii) Andrew Sum, Ishwar Khatiwada and Mykhaylo Trubskyy, The Changing Labor Market Fortunes of Teens and Young Adults in the Nation’s 100 Largest Metropolitan Areas in the Lost Decade of 2000-2010, Report Prepared for the Brookings Institution, Washington D.C., 2013.