Youth summer employment

Summer is just around the corner. Schools are preparing for break, and teens in my neighborhood have been asking about mowing my lawn.

Youth employment is highly seasonal, predictably spiking in the summer and declining during the school year. It’s also very sensitive to the strength of the labor market. The recession took a disproportionate toll on Washington’s young workers, and the recovery hasn’t stretched to them yet.

Comparing only summer-to-summer peak levels of employment (i.e., looking only at third-quarter numbers), jobs held by teens and young adults aged 14-24 dropped by nearly 19 percent from peak levels in 2007 to the lowest observed levels in 2011. In 2012, a jobs recovery began to take shape for this age range, but the rise was modest – fewer than 2,000 jobs gained from one summer to the next.

Click on the image to enlarge it

Click on the image to enlarge it

By comparison, peak-to-trough employment for workers aged 25 and older occurred over a much shorter period (2008-2010). During that time, summer employment dropped by about 3 percent. By 2012, summer employment had returned to 2008 levels.

At a national level, labor-force participation by teens and young adults has generally been declining over the past couple decades, and they are (always) higher than any other age group. I’ll have more to say on this topic in another blog post.

Anneliese Vance-Sherman is Employment Security’s regional economist for Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties.



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