Thursday, May 29, 2014

Endangered: Youth in Oregon's Labor Force

Oregon added tens of thousands of jobs while recovering from the Great Recession, but recent job growth completely overlooked younger workers. There were fewer workers ages 14 to 21 in 2012 than in 2010.

Oregon's young workers account for a disproportionate share of overall unemployment and falling labor force participation in the state. Young people ages 16 to 24 make up 13 percent of the labor force, but accounted for 29 percent of the unemployed in 2013, and more than one-fourth of the decline in the state's overall labor force participation rate since 2000.

Here are a few more considerations about youth and the labor force:
  • The share of unemployed young people with no previous work experience nearly doubled since the early 2000s, making it harder for them to compete with experienced applicants.
  • Younger workers are less common even in businesses that traditionally employ them, such as hotels and restaurants.
  • The Great Recession did not increase the share of "idle" youth -- those neither in the labor force nor enrolled in school -- which is typically about 10 percent of the youth.
  • Many young people are forgoing early work experience to gain formal education, which could pay off long-term because college graduates have higher lifetime earnings than their peers with a high school diploma.
Endangered: Youth in the Labor Force is the latest in a long series of special topic reports from the Oregon Employment Department’s Research Division. The report features data from many different federal and state sources and includes additional policy and program insights from representatives of Oregon’s seven Local Workforce Investment Boards. The full report is available online at

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