Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Recession's Effect on Youth Employment

During the recent recession and the jobless recovery, many analysts and economists forecast one group that has been especially hard-hit is young workers.

The labor force participation rate of young workers was quite low during the recession, but the decline began much earlier. One of the reasons for this change is that more youth are enrolling in post-secondary education.

In a recent Time article, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks to the long-term effect of the lack of youth jobs, “From the perspective of America’s economic future, the effect of the recession on young workers is particularly worrisome.” In that article, Joseph Walsh, Director of Washington, DC’s Department of Employment laments, “If we lose a generation of workers, there is no way this economy is going to stay competitive.”

In 2009, Oregon's teens had the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation, behind only California and Nevada. It was above 30 percent. For the last several years (2006-2008) Oregonians ages 16 to 19 years had an unemployment rate above 16 percent, and the rate for those ages 20 to 24 was near 10 percent.

Through 2008 and the first part of 2009, private-sector payroll jobs for all ages declined by 6.3 percent. Hardest hit, and by a large margin, were teen workers who saw their job numbers fall by 22 percent in just four quarters. Those in the next oldest age group, 19 to 21 years experienced the second largest decline, down almost 12 percent. On the other end of the age spectrum, the 55 and older group saw only a 1 percent decline in employment.

A LOT more information about this topic is available in the full article, written by Regional Economist Guy Tauer ( | (541) 776-6060 ext. 240)

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