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All school and no work becoming the norm for American teens

Brookings – “From 2000 to 2018, the labor force participation rate of 16- to 64-year-olds fell 3.6 percentage points. In previous work, we have shown that declining labor force participation among young people contributed substantially to this decline. In this analysis, we describe how teenagers (16–19-year-olds) have shifted away from working or seeking work and the impact this shift has had on the aggregate labor force participation rate. While declining summer employment is part of the story, the bulk of the teenage reduction in labor force participation comes from fewer teenagers being jointly enrolled in school and participating in the labor force during the academic year. We find that—despite the low teen share of the working-age population (8 percent)—if teens had still participated in the labor force at their 2000 rates, aggregate 16–64-year-old participation would be more than 1.3 percentage points higher. Many factors are at play in the decline of teen labor force participation, including increased school enrollment, seasonal employment, decreased returns to work, reduced demand for low-wage work, minimum wage hikes, and competition from older workers or immigrants. Time pressure is another driver of reduced teen participation. Teens have many demands on their time and those demands fundamentally differ between the academic year and summer….”

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