Youth and the Labor Force: Background and Trends

Source: Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara, Congressional Research Service (CRS), R42519, May 10, 2012

Congress has indicated a strong interest in ensuring that today’s young people–those ages 16 through 24–attain the education and employment experience necessary to make the transition to adulthood as skilled workers and taxpayers. In the wake of the December 2007-June 2009 recession, questions remain about the employment prospects of youth today and the possible effects on their future earnings and participation in the labor market.

This report provides context for policymakers on the youth employment situation. It includes data on labor force participation, employment, and unemployment in the post-World War II period, with a focus on trends since 2000. This discussion compares rates based on age, gender, race/ethnicity, and income, where applicable. The report also explores the factors that influence youth participation in the labor force and their prospects for employment.

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