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Profile of the Teenage Worker
U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics
October 1980
Bulletin 2039







Profile of the Teenage Worker
U.S. Department of Labor
Ray Marshall, Secretary
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Janet L. Norwood, Commissioner
October 1980
Bulletin 2039




F o r sale by th e S u p erin ten d en t of D ocu m en ts. U .S. G overnm ent P r in tin g Office
W ash in gton . D.C. 20402




This bulletin focuses on the labor
market experience of 16- to 19-yearolds. Based on data from the Current
Population Survey, the bulletin re­
views past trends and recent develop­
ments and explores the problems of
youth unemployment and the transi­
tion from school to work.




The bulletin was prepared by Diane N.
Westcott, an economist in the Office
of Current Employment Analysis.
Unless specifically identified as copy­
right, material in this publication is in
the public domain and may, with ap­
propriate credit, be reproduced with­
out permission.

Preface




Introduction.......................................................................................................

j

I. TRENDS OVER THREE D ECA D ES.................................................
Table 1. Employment status of the teenage population
(16- to 19-year-olds) by sex, race, and Hispanic origin.
Selected years, 1950-79 .........................................................

Contents

2

Chart

3

1. Teenage population, actual and projected. Selected
years, 1950-90 .......................................................................

5

2. Changes in teenage population, actual and
projected, by race. 1950-90 ................................................

6

Chart

3. Teenage civilian labor force. 1950-79 ...............................

6

Chart

4. Teenagers as a percent of the total civilian labor
force, actual and projected. 1950-90 ....................................

7

5. Teenage civilian labor force participation rates.
1950-79 ..................................................................................

7

6. Teenage civilian labor force participation rates by
sex and race. 1950-79 ...........................................................

8

7. Employment-population ratios of teenage men
by race. 1954-79 ...................................................................

8

8. Teenage population by school enrollment, labor
force status, and sex. October 1953-78 .............................

9

Chart

Chart
Chart
Chart
Chart
Chart

9. Teenage unemployment rates. 1950-79 ............................... 10

Chart 10. Ratios of teenage to adult unemployment rates.
1950-79 .................................................................................. 10
Chart 11. Teenage unemployment rates by sex and race.
1954-79 .................................................................................. 11
Chart 12. Ratios of black and other teenage to white
teenage unemployment rates. 1954-79 .................................
II. RECENT

12

DEVELOPMENTS ............................................................ 13

Table

2. Employment status of the teenage population by
school enrollment, sex, race, and Hispanic origin.
October 1978 ......................................................................... 15

Table

3. Employment status of persons 16-21 years old,
by sex and race. April and July 1979 ............................... 15

Table

4. Employment status of the teenage population by
area of residence, race, and Hispanic origin. 1979
annual averages ..................................................................... 16

Chart 13. Civilian labor force participation rates of teenagers
by school enrollment status and race. October 1978 .......... 17
Chart 14. Teenage employment status by school enrollment.
October 1978 ......................................................................... 18
Chart 15. Employed teenagers by occupation, school
enrollment status, and sex. October 1978 ........................... 19
Chart 16. Employed teenagers by industry, school enrollment
status, and sex. October 1978 ............................................ 20
Chart 17. Percent of teenage population with work experience
during 1978, by race and s e x ................................................ 21
Chart 18. Employed teenagers by full- or part-time status, sex,
annual averages...............................................22


and race. 1979


v




Chart 19. Family status of teenagers. 1979 annual averages...............23
Chart 20. Teenage civilian labor force participation rates and
unemployment rates by area of residence. 1979 annual
averages .................................................................................... 24
Chart 21. Youth in the Armed Forces as a percent of total
Armed Forces. Selected years, 1968-79 ................................ 25
Chart 22. Youth Armed Forces participation rates by race.
Selected years, 1968-79 ......................................................... 26
III. THE NATURE OF YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT ........................... 27
Table

5. Probability of unemployment. 1979 annual
averages .................................................................................... 30

Table

6. Persons with unemployment during 1978 by
number of spells, age, sex, and r a c e ....................................30

Chart 23. Civilian labor force, unemployed, and unemploy­
ment rates of teenagers. 1979 annual averages......................29
Chart 24. Teenage unemployment rates by race and Hispanic
origin. 1973-79 ..................................................................... 31
Chart 25. Unemployment rates of teenagers by school enroll­
ment status, sex, and race. October 1978 ........................... 32
Chart 26. Duration of teenage unemployment by race and
Hispanic origin. 1979 annual averages.................................. 33
Chart 27. Unemployed persons by reason for unemployment,
by age. 1979 annual averages................................................... 34
Chart 28. Labor force status of teenagers. 1979 annual
averages .................................................................................... 35
Chart 29. Discouraged workers by age, sex, and race.
1979 annual averages................................................................36
IV. THE TRANSITION FROM SCHOOL TO W O R K ........................... 37
Table

7. Labor force participation and unemployment rates
of persons 16-19 and 20-24 years old by educational
attainment. March 1979 ....................................................... 39

Chart 30. Employed persons by occupation and age.
1979 annual averages............................................................... 40
Chart 31. Employed persons by industry and age.
1979 annual averages............................................................... 41
Chart 32. Median weekly earnings of those who usually
work full time, by sex, race, and Hispanic origin. 1979
annual averages ........................................................................42




Profile
of the
Teenage
Worker

vii




By most measures, teenagers have a
difficult time in the labor force. Spe­
cifically, their unemployment rate is
the highest of all the age groups, the
types of jobs they hold have limited
prospects, and their wages are low.
Further, some teenagers face prob­
lems associated with the transition
from school to work which typically
is marked by intermittent employ­
ment. And, on average, those having
the most difficult labor market expe­
riences as youth can be expected to
have difficulties later on.
There are, however, some mitigating
factors regarding youth unemploy­
ment. Almost one-half of the unem­
ployed 16- to 19-year-olds are in
school and seeking only part-time
work, and most of them live with their
parents. Two-thirds of the unem­
ployed teenagers are either looking
for their first job or are looking for a
new job after being out of the labor
force. Unemployment for these teen­
agers is not unexpected; finding a job
when one has never worked, or has
been out of the labor market for a
while, takes time. Finally, the duration
of unemployment is shorter for teen­
agers, on average, than for adults.1
These broad statistics on teenage un­
employment, however, do not fully
illuminate their problems. For many
youths, unemployment is a temporary
and minor problem associated with
finding an afterschool job or the first
full-time job. However, the share of




total family income accounted for by
teenagers can be significant in lowincome families. For some teenagers,
a prolonged period of unemployment
or a prolonged period of intermittent
unemployment can result in a serious
loss of income, and the loss or post­
ponement of opportunities to develop
skills and work habits, though unfor­
tunately not much is known about the
cumulative effects of periodic unem­
ployment on the later employment
experience of individuals.2

Introduction

It is evident from the statistics that
the labor market experience of several
groups of teenagers demands our at­
tention, particularly the experience
of black youths and high school drop­
outs, both of whom have especially
high unemployment rates. Black
youth unemployment not only is very
high, but, unlike unemployment
among white youth, has shown an
adverse long-term trend. Also, the
labor force participation of young
blacks has been falling. There is
clearly a need to investigate the em­
ployment situation of teenagers and
to focus specifically on those who
bear the brunt of unemployment.

1 Paul Osterman, “Youth, Work, and Un­
employment,” Challenge, May-June 1978,
pp. 65-69.
2 “Policy Options for the Teenage Unem­
ployment Problem,” Background Paper
No. 13 (Congressional Budget Office,
1976).

1

I. Trends
Over Three
Decades




The size of the Nation’s youth popu­
lation has changed dramatically over
the last three decades (table 1).
After falling in the early 1950’s, the
number of youths jumped substan­
tially in the early 1960’s but the rate
of growth declined somewhat in the
early 1970’s. Projections through
1990 indicate that the teenage popu­
lation will decline, from 16.4 million
in 1979 to 13.1 million by 1990.
Population growth has been more
rapid for black than for white youth
over the last several decades, and
projections for the next decade show
a slower rate of decline for black
youth.
The teenage labor force is also pro­
jected to decline between 1979 and
1990, from 9.5 million to 7.6 million,
with the completion of the entry into
the labor force of the “baby boom”
generation. Because of the teenage
population decline, teenagers are ex­
pected to represent only 6.7 percent
of the labor force by 1990, a signifi­
cantly smaller proportion than the 9.2
percent they accounted for in 1979.
Labor force participation rates of 16to 19-year-olds dropped from 51.8
percent to 48.3 percent from 1950 to
1968; however, over the last decade,
the teenage participation rate has
risen steadily, to 58.1 percent in
1979, as the baby-boom generation
entered the labor force with greater
frequency than their counterparts be­
fore them. While the participation
rates for white teenagers and female
teenagers have risen continuously
since the mid-1960’s, the participa­
tion rates of black youth have trended
downward over this same period.
The drop in labor force participation
is particularly serious for young black
men and is reflected in the deteriora­
tion of their employment-population
ratio. The decline in this ratio has
two important aspects: (1) A marked
rise in the proportion of black men
out of the labor force (which con­
trasts with a stable proportion for
young white men) and (2) an increase

in the proportion of black men in the
labor force who are unemployed
(which also has occurred among
whites).3 This implies that the be­
havior of youth who are not in the
labor force is critical to understanding
the black youth employment problem;
however, the question of why young
black men (and to some degree
women) are participating less in the
labor market has yet to be answered.
Rising school enrollment rates played
a role in the decline of teenage labor
force participation in the 1950’s and
early 1960’s. One-half of all teen­
agers were in school in the early
1950’s; by the late 1960’s the propor­
tion rose to over two-thirds. While
the school enrollment status of teen­
agers has remained constant over the
last 10 years, there has been a marked
trend toward widespread participation
in the labor market by teenagers en­
rolled in school, particularly among
young women.
To date, teenage population growth
has created considerable pressure on
the supply side of the youth labor
market. Indicative of this pressure
has been the persistently high unem­
ployment rate for teenagers through­
out the 1960’s to the present. The
jobless rate for teenagers increased
from a comparatively low 7.6 percent
in 1953 to 16 percent in 1979, reach­
ing a peak of 20 percent during the
1973-75 recession.
The unemployment rate for teenagers
is substantially higher than that for
adult workers. The ratio of the rate
of teenage to adult (25 years and
over) unemployment has varied from
2.7 to 1 in 1954 to 5.5 to 1 in 1968
and 1969. This ratio remained fairly
stable at about 3.3 throughout the
1950’s and into the early 1960’s.
However, beginning in 1963 with the
entry of the baby-boom population
into the labor force, the teenage-adult
unemployment rate ratio rose to a
record high of 5.5 in the late 1960’s
before an increase in adult unemploy­
ment through the 1970’s decreased
the ratio to 4.1 in 1979.

Black and other minority teenagers
have experienced consistently higher
unemployment rates than their white
counterparts. The disparity was rela­
tively small in the mid-1950’s but in­
creased significantly thereafter. In
1954, the ratio of black and other
minority teenage unemployment to
white teenage unemployment was 1.4;
this ratio increased through the late
1950’s and early 1960’s, reaching 2.4
in 1967. This ratio was not exceeded
until after the 1973-75 recession,
when the unemployment rate for white
teenagers began declining while that




for blacks and others did not. By
1978, the ratio had climbed to 2.6,
with black and other and white teen­
age unemployment rates of 36.3 per­
cent and 13.9 percent, respectively.
However, the unemployment rate for
white teenagers was unchanged for
1979 while that for black teenagers
declined slightly, causing the ratio to
drop to 2.4.
3 R. B. Freeman, The Youth Labor Market
Problem in the United States: A n Over­
view (Princeton, Princeton University
Press, National Bureau of Economic Re­
search, May 1979).

TABLE 1
Employment Status of the Teenage
Population (16-19 year-olds)
by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin.
Selected Years, 1950-79.1

numbers in thousands

1950

Item

1955

1965

1973

1979

8,145
4,216
51.8
3,703
513
12.2
3,929

8,364
4,092
48.9
3,642
450
11.0
4,272

12,930
5,910
45.7
5,036
874
14.8
7,020

15,743
8,465
53.8
7,237
1,226
14.5
7,283

16,379
9,512
58.1
7,984
1,528
16.1
6,867

3,963
2,504
63.2
2,186
318
12.7
1,459

4,022
2,369
58.9
2,095
274
11.6
1,653

6,318
3,397
53.8
2,918
479
14.1
2,921

7,801
4,665
59.8
4,018
647
13.9
3,136

8,155
5,031
61.7
4,236
795
15.8
3,124

4,181
1,712
40.9
1,517
195
11.4
2,469

4,342
1,723
39.7
1,547
176
10.2
2,619

6,612
2,513
38.0
2,118
395
15.7
4,099

7,942
3,798
47.8
3,219
579
15.2
4,145

8,224
4,481
54.5
3,748
733
16.4
3,743

(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)

7,292
3,598
49.3
3,225
373
10.4
3,696

11,319
5,267
46.5
4,562
705
13.4
6,052

13,480
7,553
56.0
6,602
951
12.6
5,929

13,841
8,475
61.2
7,295
1,181
13.9
5,366

(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)

1,071
495
46.2
418
77
15.6
576

1,069
645
40.1
474
171
26.5
964

2,263
909
40.2
634
275
30.3
1,354

2,539
1,036
40.8
689
347
33.5
1,503

(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)

(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)

(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)
(2)

855
401
46.9
321
79
19.8
454

1,061
535
50.4
433
102
19.1
526

Total

Civilian noninstitutional population
Percent of civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force
M en

Civilian noninstitutional population
Percent of civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force
W om en

Civilian noninstitutional population
Percent of civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force
W hite

Civilian noninstitutional population
Percent of civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force
B lack and other

Civilian noninstitutional population
Percent of civilian labor force
P articipation rate
Em ployed
U nem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force
H ispanic

Civilian noninstitutional population
Percent of civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nem ploym ent
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force
(1)
4



(2)

1955,1965, and 1973 were selected for comparison because they were years in
which the overall unemployment rate was approximately the same.
Not available.

millions

18 r




CHART 1
Teenage Population, Actual and
Projected.
Selected Years, 1950-90.

CHART 2.

index, 1950 population

100

Changes in Teenage Population,
Actual and Projected, by Race.1
1950-90.

Population growth has been more
rapid for black than for white teen­
agers over the last several decades,
and projections show a slower rate
of decline for black youth through
1990.

'In 1950, the number of black youth includes
a relatively small proportion of youth of
other minority races.

1950

CHART 3.
Teenage Civilian Labor Force.
1950-79.

The teenage labor force has risen
steadily since 1955.

6




1960

1970

1979 1980

1985

1990

CHART 4.
Teenagers as a Percent of the Total
Civilian Labor Force, Actual and
Projected.
1950-90.

Teenagers are expected to account
for a significantly smaller proportion
of the labor force in 1990 than they
accounted for in 1979.

1950

1955

1960

1965

1970

1975 1979 1980

1985

1990

CHART 5.
Teenage Civilian Labor Force
Participation Rates.
1950-79.

Over the last decade, the teenage
participation rate has risen steadily.

1955




1960

1965

1970

1975

1979

7

CHART 6.
Teenage Civilian Labor Force
Participation Rates by Sex and Race.
1950-79.

Participation rates of white teenagers
and teenage women have risen
continuously since the mid-1960’s,
but the rate for black youth has
trended downward.

1950

1954-79.

The proportion of the black male
teenage population that is employed
has been declining; at the same time,
the ratio for young white men has
been rising.

1960

1965

1970

1975

1979

percent of population employed

CHART 7.
Employment-Population Ratios of
Teenage Men by Race.

1955

100
90

80

70

60
W hite
••

50

i
i

*
*

f
i

*

i
i

40

Black

30

20

10

0
8




1950

1955

1960

1965

1970

1975

1979

Percent of teenagers
enrolled in school

Percent of teenagers
in school who are in
labor force

Percent of teenagers
not in school who are
in labor force

CHART 8.
Teenage Population by School
Enrollment, Labor Force Status,
and Sex.
October, 1953-78.

There has been a marked trend
toward labor market participation by
teenagers enrolled in school,
particularly among young women.

1953 58

63

68

73 78




53 58

63

68

73 78

53 58

63

68

73 78

9

CHART 9.
Teenage Unemployment Rates.

percent of labor force unemployed
24

1950-79.

The jobless rate for teenagers has
been persistently high since the
1960’s; it reached a peak of 20
percent during the 1973-75 recession.

1950

CHART 10.
Ratios of Teenage to Adult
Unemployment Rates.

1955

1960

1965

1970

1975

1979

1950

1955

1960

1965

1970

1975

1979

ratio
6:1

1950-79.

The teenage unemployment rate has
been more than triple the rate for
adult workers for most of the last 25
years. The disparity was especially
great in the late 1960’s.

10



of civilian labor force unemployed

CHART 11.

50

Teenage Unemployment Rates by
Sex and Race.

Men

1954-79.

Black and other minority teenagers
have experienced higher unemploy­
ment rates than their white
counterparts.

40

B lack and other

30

_n

U

1
oj

20
W hite P

_P

FhF-fc
i_i

h
r11'J iT

L
,

I ' u

u
10

0
54

59

64

69




74

79 1954

59

64

69

74

79

11

CHART 12.
Ratios of Black and Other Teenage
to White Teenage Unemployment
Rates.
1954-79.

The ratio of black and other minority
teenage unemployment to white
teenage unemployment increased
through the late 1950’s and early
1960’s and again in the mid-to
late 1970’s

12




Labor force participation no longer
typically begins upon the completion
of school. Increasingly, young people
ease into the labor market by com­
bining work with school. During
October 1978, about 67 percent of
all teenagers 16 to 19 years old were
enrolled in school. Of these, 44 per­
cent of the female students and 47
percent of the male students were in
the labor force. However, while the
participation rate for white students
averaged 49 percent, that for black
students was only about one-half this
figure at 26 percent (table 2).
For teenagers not enrolled in school,
the pattern is vastly different—about
86 percent of the high school grad­
uates and 66 percent of the dropouts
are in the labor force. As with stu­
dents, blacks not enrolled in school
have considerably lower rates of par­
ticipation than their white counter­
parts.
Not only are students less likely than
out-of-school youth to be in the labor
force, but, when they are working, the
characteristics of their jobs, on aver­
age, are likely to be quite different
because students are much more likely
to work only part time. Slightly less
than one-tenth of those teenagers en­
rolled in school work full time, com­
pared with about two-thirds of those
in the labor force not attending school.
When comparing occupational distri­
butions of students and nonstudents,
it can be seen that students are more
likely to be in service work and less
likely to hold a blue-collar job than
their counterparts who are out of
school. There are also noticeable dif­
ferences in the industries in which
teenagers are employed when school
enrollment status is taken into ac­
count. For example, manufacturing
accounts for about 30 percent of
male nonstudent employment, com­
pared with 7 percent for male youth
still in school. Among young women
in school, 90 percent were employed
in either wholesale and retail trade or
service FRASER
Digitized for and finance; about 70 percent


of the out-of-school women had such
employment.
A significant aspect of the youth labor
market is the summer influx of stu­
dents. Each summer, the 16- to 21year-old labor force expands sharply,
as large numbers of youth search for
summer jobs and high school and col­
lege graduates, many of whom were
not in the labor force while attending
school, enter the job market. Summer
employment provides work experience
—as well as income—for many stu­
dents who did not work while at
school (54.3 percent) and provides
continuing experience for student
workers, and thus contributes to the
adjustment of these youth in the adult
labor market.
During 1979, the number of 16- to
21-year-olds in the labor force in July,
the peak month, was 3.6 million more
than in April, an increase of 25 per­
cent. About 75 percent of all youths
were in the labor force in the summer
compared with about 60 percent in
April (table 3).
Traditionally, labor market activity is
measured at a specific time, that is, in
a single survey week for each month
of the year. It is also possible, how­
ever, to obtain data on the work ex­
perience of a person over an entire
calendar year. These data reveal that
the proportion of youths with some
work experience during the year is
substantially higher than that for the
average of all months of the year. In
1978, for example, approximately
10.8 million teenagers worked at some
time during the year, compared with
an average of only 8.0 million who
were working at any given time. Like­
wise, the proportion of teenagers who
worked or looked for work during
1978 was 66 percent, considerably
higher than the monthly average of
58 percent. Clearly, these numbers
reflect what we all know, that there is
much greater participation in the sum­
mer than in the 9 school-year months.
The percentage of the teenage pop­
ulation that worked in 1978 varied

II.
Recent
Developments




markedly by race and sex. White
youth were much more likely than
blacks to have worked during the year
(70 percent versus 42 percent). And
teenage men were more likely to have
been employed during the year than
their female counterparts.
Teenage men are more likely than
their female counterparts to work full
time. During 1979 about three-fifths
of the men but only half the women
were on full-time schedules or were
working part time because they could
not find a full-time position.
Teenagers also differ in their family
status and consequent financial needs.
For most teenagers, finding employ­
ment is not an economic necessity
since almost three-fourths of all teen­
agers live in 2-parent families; only
about 12 percent have no parental
attachment. On the other hand, about
one-half of all black teenagers reside
in 1-parent families or are living
apart from their parents; for these
youth, finding a job can be crucially
important.
The area of residence of teenagers
may also create variations in their
labor force experience. More teen­
agers live in the suburbs (6.6 million
in 1979) than in the central cities or
nonmetropolitan areas (4.4 million
and 5.3 million, respectively). In
marked contrast to the total number,
more than one-half of the 2.2 million
black youth lived in the central cities
in 1979, while less than one-fifth lived
in the suburbs, and the balance, in
nonmetropolitan areas (table 4). In
each of these locations, however,
teenagers constituted roughly 10 per­
cent of the overall labor force. Youth
in the central cities exhibited some­

what lower participation in the labor
force than those in suburban and non­
metropolitan areas, and correspond­
ingly higher unemployment rates.
Most labor force statistics do not re­
flect the important role of the military
services in providing jobs for young
persons. (Current employment and
unemployment statistics are based on
the civilian labor force, which ex­
cludes the Armed Forces). During
1979, 6.3 percent of all blacks in the
labor force were in the Armed Forces,
more than double the percentage of
all whites (2.7 percent) who went
into the military services. Over 90
percent of the teenagers in the ser­
vices are male; however, this propor­
tion is expected to decline somewhat
over the next several years as the
Armed Forces continue to open up
more opportunities for women. As of
1979, teenagers accounted for 14.5
percent of the total Armed Forces,
while 20- to 24-year-olds made up
another 39 percent.
Black teenagers are somewhat more
likely to be in the military services
than their white counterparts; in 1979,
the Armed Forces participation rate
of black teens was 2.7 percent versus
1.6 percent for whites. In the past,
white teenagers have had higher par­
ticipation rates in the Armed Forces
than blacks, but beginning in 1973,
the relationship has reversed and the
gap has widened, largely as a result of
the return to an all-volunteer army.4

4 Richard B. L. Cooper, “Youth Labor
Markets and the Military,” Conference Re­
port on Youth Unemployment: Its Mea­
surement and Meaning (U.S. Department
of Labor, 1978), pp. 215-48.

TABLE 2

numbers in thousands

S chool Enrollm ent
and Em ploym ent Status

Total

M en

W om en

W hite

Black

H ispanic

Enrolled in school
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
Unem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

11,084
5,066
45.7
4,289
775
15.3
6,018

5,658
2,670
47.2
2,245
425
15.9
2,988

5,426
2,396
44.2
2,044
350
14.6
3,030

9,296
4,576
49.2
3,970
604
13.2
4,720

1,558
408
26.2
256
151
37.0
1,150

595
242
40.7
197
45
18.6
353

N o t enrolled in school
Civilian labor force
Participation rate:
Em ployed
U nem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

5,353
4,200
78.5
3,545
653
15.5
1,153

2,514
2,228
88.6
1,912
315
14.1
286

2,839
1,972
69.5
1,634
339
17.2
867

4,610
3,729
80.9
3,231
498
13.4
881

667
425
62.8
283
142
33.4
252

Employment Status of the Teenage
Population by School Enrollment,
Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin.

394
278
70.6
225
54
19.4
116

October 1978.

TABLE 3.

n u m b er s in th o u s a n d s

Sex and R ace

E m ploym ent Status

Total

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Employed
U nemployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

24,496
14,645
59.8
12,745
1,900
13.0
9,851

24,486
18,266
74.6
15,812
2,454
13.4
6,220

M en

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
Unem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

12,078
7,763
64.3
6,779
985
12.7
43.5

12,081
9,885
81.8
8,612
1,273
12.9
2,196

W om en

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
Unem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

12,418
6,882
55.4
5,966
916
13.3
5,536

12,405
8,381
67.6
7,201
1,181
14.1
4,024

W hite

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

20,785
12,942
62.3
11,524
1,418
11.0
7,842

20,764
16,007
77.1
14,187
1,820
11.4
4,757

B lack and other

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

3,712
1,703
45.9
1,221
482
28.3
2,009

3,722
2,259
60.7
1,625
634
28.1
1,463




A pril 1979

July 1979

Employment Status of Persons
16-21 Years Old by Sex and Race.
April and July, 1979.

TABLE 4.
Employment Status of the Teenage
Population by Area of Residence,
Race, and Hispanic Origin.
1979 Annual Averages.

numbers in thousands

E m ploym ent Status,
R ace, and H ispanic Origin

Central
City

Suburbs

N on­
m etropolitan
A rea

4,413
2,358
53.4
1,889
469
19.9
2,055

6,642
4,080
61.4
3,499
581
14.2
2,562

5,323
3,073
57.7
2,595
477
15.5
2,250

3,058
1,833
59.9
1.562
271
14.8
1,225

6,085
3,834
63.0
3,321
513
13.4
2,251

4,698
2,809
59.8
2,411
398
14.2
1,889

1,237
470
38.0
283
189
40.2
766

439
189
43.1
128
61
32.3
250

545
226
41.5
153
74
32.7
319

486
225
46.3
180
46
20.4
260

370
203
54.9
166
37
18.2
167

184
100
53.8
82
18
18.2
85

Total

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force
W hite

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nemployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force
Black

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force
H ispanic

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nemployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

16




TABLE 2

numbers in thousands

S chool Enrollm ent
and Em ploym ent Status

Total

M en

W om en

W hite

B lack

H ispanic

Enrolled in school
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
Unem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

11,084
5,066
45.7
4,289
775
15.3
6,018

5,658
2,670
47.2
2,245
425
15.9
2,988

5,426
2,396
44.2
2,044
350
14.6
3,030

9,296
4,576
49.2
3,970
604
13.2
4,720

1,558
408
26.2
256
151
37.0
1,150

595
242
40.7
197
45
18.6
353

N ot enrolled in school
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
Unem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

5,353
4,200
78.5
3,545
653
15.5
1,153

2,514
2,228
88.6
1,912
315
14.1
286

2,839
1,972
69.5
1,634
339
17.2
867

4,610
3,729
80.9
3,231
498
13.4
881

667
425
62.8
283
142
33.4
252

Employment Status of the Teenage
Population by School Enrollment,
Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin.

394
278
70.6
225
54
19.4
116

TABLE 3.

n u m b ers in th o u s a n d s

Sex and Race

E m ploym ent Status

Total

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nemployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

24,496
14,645
59.8
12,745
1,900
13.0
9,851

24,486
18,266
74.6
15,812
2,454
13.4

M en

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
Unemployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

12,078
7,763
64.3
6,779
985
12.7
43.5

12,081
9,885
81.8
8,612
1,273
12.9
2,196

W om en

Civilian noninstitutional populatiori
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nemployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

12,418
6,882
55.4
5,966
916
13.3
5,536

12,405
8,381
67.6
7,201
1,181
14.1
4,024

W hite

Civilian noninstitutional populatiort
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
Unem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

20,785
12,942
62.3
11,524
1,418

20,764
16,007
77.1
14,187
1,820
11.4
4,757

Civilian noninstitutional populationi
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
Unem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

3,712
1,703
45.9

B lack and other

October 1978.




A pril 1979

1 1 .0

7,842

1 ,2 2 1

482
28.3
2,009

July 1 979

6 ,2 2 0

3,722
2,259
60.7
1,625
634
28.1
1,463

Employment Status of Persons
16-21 Years Old by Sex and Race.
April and July, 1979.

TABLE 4.
Employment Status of the Teenage
Population by Area of Residence,
Race, and Hispanic Origin.
1979 Annual Averages.

numbers in thousands

E m ploym ent Status,
R ace, and H ispanic Origin

Central
City

Suburbs

N on­
m etropolitan
Area

4,413
2,358
53.4
1,889
469
19.9
2,055

6,642
4,080
61.4
3,499
581
14.2
2,562

5,323
3,073
57.7
2,595
477
15.5
2,250

3,058
1,833
59.9
1,562
271
14.8
1,225

6,085
3,834
63.0
3,321
513
13.4
2,251

4,698
2,809
59.8
2,411
398
14.2
1,889

1,237
470
38.0
283
189
40.2
766

439
189
43.1
128
61
32.3
250

545
226
41.5
153
74
32.7
319

486
225
46.3
180
46
20.4
260

370
203
54.9
166
37
18.2
167

184
100
53.8
82
18
18.2
85

Total

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force
W hite

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Employed
Unem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force
B lack

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
U nem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force
H ispanic

Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Participation rate
Em ployed
Unem ployed
U nem ploym ent rate
N ot in the labor force

16



CHART 13

of population in labor force
90

Civilian Labor Force Participation
Rates of Teenagers by School
Enrollment Status and Race.
October 1978.

Whether they are in school or not,
black teenagers have considerably
lower rates of labor force participation
than white teenagers.

80

70

60

50

40

30

20

10

0
White



Black

White

Black

17

CHART 14.
Teenage Employment Status by
School Enrollment.
October 1978.

Among teenagers not enrolled in
school, 86 percent of the high school
graduates, but only 66 percent of the
dropouts, were in the labor force in
October 1978.

18



percent

Enrolled in school

N o t enrolled in school
High school graduates High school dropouts

[en
I N ot enrolled

Women
Enrolled in school Not enrolled

100

W hitecollar
1 2 .4 %

W hitecollar
4 6 .9 %

W hitecollar
5 0 .6 %

CHART 15.
Employed Teenagers by Occupation,
School Enrollment Status, and Sex.
October 1978.

Students are more likely to be in
service work and less likely to hold a
blue-collar job than teenagers who
are out of school.

90
Bluecollar
7 2 .2 %

80

70

60

Bluecollar
7 .3 %

50

Bluecollar
2 1 .7 %

Service
4 4 .2 %

40

30

-

■■
Service
2 6 .5 %

:
20

Service
9 .9 %
10

g iiiip IB a
:
Farm
5 .5 %

Farm

1 .6 %

Farm
1.2 %

0



19

CHART 16.
Employed Teenagers by Industry,
School Enrollment Status, and Sex.

percent
100

October 1978.

The jobs of teenagers in school— both
men and women— are concentrated
in the trade sector; those out of school
are more evenly dispersed throughout
all industry sectors.

Men
Enrolled in school N ot enrolled
Service
and Finance
2 3 .6 %

Service
and Finance
1 3 .0 %

Women
Enrolled in school Not enrolled
Service
and Finance
3 8 .0 %

Service
an d Finance
3 3 .5 %

90

W holesale
and R etail
Trade
2 7 .0 %

80

70

W holesale
and R etail
Trade
5 2 .3 %

60
M anufac­
tu rin g
2 9 .2 %

W holesale
and R etail
T rade
5 2 .0 %

W holesale
and R eta il
Trade
37.1 %

50

40

30

20

A griculture
7 .4 %

M anufac­
tu rin g
7 .3 %

M anufac­
tu rin g
20 .2 %

C onstruc­
tion
1 5 .7 %

A griculture
8 .4 %

10
All other
8 .4 %

0

20




M anufac­
tu rin g 4 .2 %
A ll other
7 .6 %

A ll oth er
5 .8 %

All other
9 .2 %

CHART 17

percent

10 r
0

Percent of Teenage Population with
Work Experience during 1978 by
Race and Sex.

White youth are much more likely
than blacks to have a job, and teenage
men are more likely than women to
have one.

90

80

70

60

50

40

30

20

10

0
White



Black

Men

Women

21

CHART 18.
Employed Teenagers by Full or
Part-Time Status, Sex, and Race.

percent
100

V oluntary p art-tim e
4 2 .0 %

V oluntary p art-tim e
5 0 .6 %

1979 Annual Averages.

Teenage men are more likely than
teenage women to work full time.
Also, more black than white teenagers
must settle for a part-time position
although they desire a full-time job.

80

60
P art-tim e fo r econom ic
reasons 7 .8 %
P art-tim e fo r econom ic
reasons 8 .5 %

Full-tim e
5 0 .2 %

40

F ull-tim e
4 0 .9 %

20

0
Men

Women

percent
100
V oluntary part-tim e
4 6 .3 %

V oluntary p art-tim e
4 3 .4 %

P art-tim e fo r econom ic
reasons 7 .7 %

P art-tim e fo r econom ic
reasons
1 2 .9 %

80

60

40

F ull-tim e
4 6 .0 %

F ull-tim e
4 3 .7 %

20

0
22




White

Black and other

CHART 19.

All teenagers

Family Status of Teenagers.
1979 Annual Averages.
1-parent fa m ilie s
1 6 .7 %

N o p aren tal
a ttach m en t

11 .8 %

One-half of black teenagers, compared
with about one-quarter of all teen­
agers, reside in 1-parent families or
are living apart from their parents.

2-parent fa m ilies 7 1 .5 %

Black teenagers




23

CHART 20.
Teenage Civilian Labor Force
Participation Rates and
Unemployment Rates by Area of
Residence.
1979 Annual Averages.

Youth in the central cities exhibit
somewhat lower participation in the
labor force and higher unemployment
rates than those in suburban and
metropolitan areas.




Central
city

Suburbs

Nonmetropolitan
area

Central
city

Suburbs

Non­
metropolitan
area

percent of Armed Forces
100

CHART 21.

(

Youth in the Armed Forces as a
Percent of Total Armed Forces.

16-19 years old
20-24 years old

Selected Years, 1968-79.

Teenagers accounted for 15 percent
of the Armed Forces in 1979.

90

80

70

60

—
50

40

30

20

10

1968

1969

1970




1971

1972

1973

II
II
1975

1979

25

CHART 22

16- to 19-year-olds

percent

Youth Armed Forces Participation
Rates by Race.
Selected Years, 1968-79.

In the past, white teenagers have had
a higher participation rate in the
Armed Forces than blacks, but since
1973 the relationship has reversed.

1968

percent

26




1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

20- to 24-year-olds

1975

1979

The incidence of unemployment is tra­
ditionally highest among the youngest
members of the labor force (table 5).
On the average in 1979, 1.5 million
teenagers were unable to find jobs,
and their unemployment rate of 16
percent was over four times that for
persons 25 years and over. Teenagers
accounted for about one-tenth of the
Nation’s labor force in 1979 but over
one-fourth of the unemployed.
The high unemployment rates for
youth are attributable to many fac­
tors, including lack of work experi­
ence, inadequate entry skills, lack of
or inadequate job counseling, the in­
termittent attachment of students and
other youth to the labor force, and,
as noted earlier, the influx of the ma­
turing postwar baby-boom generation
into the labor force causing additional
competition for jobs. Also, part of
youth unemployment is attributable to
the fact that, in general, primary firms,
basically those in the goods-producing
industries, do not want to hire young
workers under any circumstances.
The source of this discrimination can
probably be traced to the turn of the
century when the combination of ex­
tended schooling and child labor re­
form removed youth from the emerg­
ing primary sector and into casual
labor, a pattern that has been rein­
forced ever since.5
Black teenagers, in particular, expe­
rience very high jobless levels. The
average number of unemployed black
teenagers in 1979 was about 320,000,
and their rate of unemployment, 36.5
percent, was only slightly lower than
that reached at the bottom of the
1973-75 recession. While joblessness
did not decline significantly among
black youth, it did decline consider­
ably among white youth over the last
3 years, from 17.9 percent in 1975 at
the deepest point of the recession to
13.9 percent during 1979.
Hispanics, too, account for a dispro­
portionate share of the Nation’s un­
employed. During 1978, the jobless
rate for 16- to 19-year-old Hispanics
was 20.6 percent, well above the rate



for their white counterparts, but still
much lower than that for black teens.
Hispanic youth, however, experienced
some relief from the high unemploy­
ment that prevailed in the mid-1970’s,
as their rate fell from 27.7 percent in
1975 to 19.1 percent in 1979. Among
the Hispanic groups, Puerto Rican
youth had the highest jobless rate in
1979, 27.8 percent, compared with
16.9 percent for workers of Mexican
origin.
The differential patterns in unemploy­
ment can be further examined by
school enrollment status. A strong
relationship exists between unemploy­
ment and dropping out of high school;
the incidence of unemployment among
teenage dropouts was 23.8 percent in
October 1978, while for high school
graduates, the rate was 11.5 percent,
and for students, 15.3 percent.
One of the major problems of school
dropouts is that they become com­
mitted to the labor force before they
are eligible for most career jobs. They
often must compete with students for
the “youth” jobs and lack the neces­
sary experience and expertise that
comes with age to be eligible for
career jobs. In many cases, high
school dropouts remain permanently
ineligible for a number of career jobs,
as they lack the necessary educational
credentials (i.e., high school diploma)
to be hired. Some researchers feel
th a t d ro p p in g o u t of school an d the

often resulting unemployment is but a
symptom of a youth’s basic limitations
(family background, area of resi­
dence, living conditions, poor school
performance, etc.), all of which hinder
such persons in their search for em­
ployment.0
The area of residence al^o is signifi­
cant in analyzing teenage unemploy­
ment. White, black, and Hispanic
youth who were central city residents
had the most difficulty in obtaining
jobs; employment opportunities were
about the same for those living in
either the suburban or nonmetropoli­
tan areas. Nevertheless, the unem­
ployment rate for black teenagers was

III.
The
Nature
of Youth
Unemployment

28



more than twice that of their white
peers and close to double that of
Hispanic youth (table 4).
In 1979, more than one-half the youth
who experienced unemployment were
unemployed no more than 4 weeks
during the year, reflecting, in large
part, the seasonal or intermittent na­
ture of labor force participation for
many teenagers. For workers 25
years and older, only two-fifths had
such a short duration of unemploy­
ment.
There were noticeable differences in
the duration of unemployment by race
also; periods totaling 15 weeks or
more were reported by about 17 per­
cent of the black youth, but only by
10 percent of the whites.
Not surprisingly, most teenage unem­
ployment is associated with entry or
reentry into the labor market. In
1979, about two-thirds of all unem­
ployed teenagers were new entrants or
reentrants to the labor force. Roughly
40 percent had never worked before.
While over one-half of all unemployed
workers 25 years of age and over had
lost their last job, about one-fifth of
all teens had lost their job. Thus,
much of the youth unemployment can
be attributed to the job search effort
associated with voluntary job turn­
over, interruptions in employment due
to school and other activities, and
initial labor market entry. In general,
higher teenage unemployment rates
result from the greater frequency of
individual bouts of unemployment
rather than the long duration of a
single spell of unemployment.
The incidence of unemployment
among teenagers over an entire year
—as distinguished from the incidence
at each point in time—is also more
severe than among adults, but the
disparity is not as great. In 1978,
over one-fourth of both the 16- to
19-year-olds and the 20- to 24-yearolds who were in the labor force dur­
ing the year had some periods of un­
employment; this compares to 12
percent among persons 25 years and
over or about one-half that for youths.

In comparison, the unemployment rate
of teenagers at a single point in time
is about four times that of adult work­
ers (table 6).
While this report focuses on those
teenagers who are in the labor force,
a large number of young persons
either are unable to work or choose
not to work. During 1979, over twofifths of the teenagers were outside the
labor force; most of these, about
three-fourths, cited school attendance
as their reason for nonparticipation.
A small proportion of the teenagers
not in the labor force express the de­
sire to work but, for a variety of per­
sonal or job-market-related reasons,
are not seeking employment. One
group of these individuals is of par­
ticular importance—those who want
a job now but are not actively looking
for work because they believe that no
jobs are available (hence they cannot
be classified as unemployed). This
group we term “discouraged workers.”
Teenagers constitute over 16 percent
of all discouraged workers, a dispro­
portionate share when compared with
their size in the labor force, about
10 percent. Teenage men account for
a much larger proportion of discour­
aged men than teenage women do of
all discouraged women; close to onefouth of all discouraged men were
teenagers, while slightly over onetenth of discouraged women were
that young. Also, black youth (16 to
24 years) were much more likely
than white youth to become discour­
aged over job prospects.
Teenagers, more than others in the
population, move frequently from one
labor force category to another (i.e.,
from employed to not in the labor
force, from unemployed to employed,
etc.). A recent study noted that between
60 and 70 percent of all teenagers who
become employed were previously
outside the labor force; it also found
that most of the teenagers who leave
employment leave the labor force
rather than become unemployed. The
evidence suggests the possibility that,
for many teenagers, job search is a

passive process in which the main
activity is waiting for a job.7 This is
supported by data that show that,
for both black and white teenagers,
approximately 70 percent reported
that they spent no more than 10 hours
per week engaged in job search. This
suggests that many young people only
enter the labor force when a job is
presented.8 It is also likely that many
jobs for youth are relatively easy to
obtain— by virtue of their being fre­
quently vacated, having low wages,
requiring marginal experience, etc.—
that only limited search is necessary
in the first place.

5 Osterman, “Youth, Work, and Unem­
ployment.”
6 Jerome Johnston and Jerald G. Bachman,
The Transition from High School to Work:
The W ork A ttitudes and Early Occupa­
tional Experiences of Young M en (U ni­
versity of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Institute
for Social Research, 1973).
7 Kim B. Clark and Lawrence H. Sum­
mers, The D ynam ics of Y outh U nem ploy­
m ent (Princeton, Princeton University
Press, National Bureau of Economic Re­
search, May 1979).
8 Norman Bowers, “Young and Marginal:
An Overview of Data and Theory on
Trends in Youth Employment,” M onthly
Labor Review, Oct. 1979.

Civilian labor force
Age \ A ge 20-24
6 -1 9 \ 15 .3
, 9 .5 \m illio n /

A ge 25 and over
78.1 m illion

CHART 23.
Civilian Labor Force, Unemployed,
and Unemployment Rates of
Teenagers.
1979 Annual Averages.

Teenagers accounted for about onetenth of the Nation’s labor force in
1979, but over one-fourth of the
unemployed.

percent

Unemployment rate

1 6 .1 %

Age 16-19



9 .0 %

3 .9 %

Age 20-24

Age 25 and over

29

TABLE 5.
Probability o£ Unemployment.

Your chances of
being unemployed
were about

If you were . . .

1979 Annual Averages.1
14-15 years
16-19 years
16-17 years
18-19 years
20-24 years
25 years or over

1 in
1 in
1 in
1 in
1 in
1 in

A ge 16-19 and:

W hite
Black
Hispanic

1 in 7
1 in 3
1 in 5

A ge 16-19, and
living in a:

Central city
Suburban area
N onm etropolitan area
Farm
N onfarm

1 in
1 in
1 in
1 in
1 in

High school graduate (n o colleg e)
Black high school graduate (n o co lleg e)
H igh school dropout
Black high school dropout
C ollege graduate
Black college graduate

1 in
1 in
1 in
1 in
1 in
1 in

Age:

A ge 16-24, not
in school, and a:

6V2

6
5V 2

7
11
251/2

5
7
6V2

16V^
6
13
5

5 /2
3 1/2
16
6V2

1 School enrollment data are for October 1978.

TABLE 6.
Persons with Unemployment during
1978 by Number of Spells, Age,
Sex, and Race.

n u m b e r s in t h o u s a n d s

Persons with Unemployment
Age, Sex,
and Race

16-19
20-24
25 and over
M en 16-19
W om en 16-19
W hite 16-19
Black 16-19

30



Total working
or looking
for work
during year

Number

Percent of
total working
or looking

Percent with
2 or more
spells of
unemployment

11,319
17,347
83,693

3,089
4 ,5 4 8
10,101

27.3
26.2
12.1

30.9
30.6
27.2

5,968
5,352

1,656
1,434

27.7
26.8

33.6
27.9

10,032
1,116

2 ,528
510

25.2
45.7

31.4
2 8.4

CHART 24.

of labor force unemployed
50

Teenage Unemployment Rates by
Race and Hispanic Origin.
1973-79.

The jobless rate of Hispanic teenagers
has been well above the rate for their
white counterparts but much lower
than that for blacks.

45

40

35

30

25

20

15

W hite
10

5

0
1974
1973



1975

1976

1977

1978

1979

31

CHART 25.

percent of labor force unemployed

Unemployment Rates of Teenagers
by School Enrollment Status, Sex,
and Race.

Enrolled in school

October 1978.

The unemployment rate for teenage
dropouts was double that for high
school graduates not enrolled in
school in October 1978.

32



Total

Men

Women

White

Black

Total

Men

Women

White

Black

Total

Men

Women

White

Black

White

CHART 26.
Duration of Teenage Unemployment
by Race and Hispanic Origin.
1979 Annual Averages.

More than one-half of all youth who
experienced unemployment in 1979
were unemployed no more than
4 weeks during the year.

Black and other

Hispanic origin




33

CHART 27
Unemployed Persons by Reason for
Unemployment, by Age.

percent of unemployed
100

entrants
3 8 .5 %

/V et®

New en tran ts
9 .4 %

R een tran ts
2 9 .4 %

1979 Annual Averages.

Most teenage unemployment is
associated with entry or reentry into
the labor market.

34



New entrants 2 .5 %

90
R een tran ts
3 0 .3 %

80

70
Job leavers
1 4 .4 %

60

R een tran ts
2 9 .1 %

Job losers
5 3 .8 %

50

W :

Job losers
4 3 .2 %

40

30

Job leavers
1 7 .1 %

Job leavers
1 1 .8 %

20

10

Age 16-19

Age 20-24

Age 25 and over




CHART 28.
Labor Force Status of Teenagers.
1979 Annual Averages.

A large number of teenagers either
are unable to work or choose not to
work. During 1979, over two-fifths of
the teenagers were outside the
labor force.

35

CHART 29.

percent

Discouraged Workers by Age, Sex,
and Race.
1979 Annual Averages.

Teenagers, about 10 percent of the
labor force, constituted 16 percent of
the discouraged workers in 1979.

36



percent
100

Age 25 and over, 61.1 %

Age 2 5 and over, 7 5 .5 %

80

60

40
Age 20-24, 1 5 .1 %

20

Age 16-19, 2 3 .7 %

Age 2 0 -2 4 ,1 2 .5 %
A ge 16-19, 1 2 .1 %

Men

Women

t
100

Age 2 5 and over, 7 5 .0 %

Age 2 5 and over, 5 8 .4 %

80

60

40

20

Age 16-24, 4 1 .6 %

Age 16-24, 2 4 .9 %

White

Black and other

The process of moving from school
to work, i.e., from the youth job mar­
ket into the career job market, can be
called the transition. The transition
does not occur until the very late teens
or early 20’s for most youth and often
is difficult.
There is a distinct connection between
formal schooling and labor market
activity. Generally, labor force par­
ticipation rates are higher and unem­
ployment rates are lower for persons
with greater amounts of education.
In March 1979, the proportion of
teenagers working or seeking work
ranged from a low of 38 percent
among the population group with less
than 8 years of school to 70 percent
for those with 4 years of high school.
(Most teenagers have not yet had a
chance to finish college.) Likewise,
unemployment rates were highest
(30.9 percent) for persons who had
8 years or less of elementary school
and lowest (4.7 percent) for those
teenagers with some years of college.
Among young persons age 20 to 24
years, there was a noticeable increase
in participation and a corresponding
decline in unemployment in every
educational category, (table 7).
The labor force status of youth, in
conjunction with their school enroll­
ment, provides an indication of those
most likely to incur problems in mak­
ing the school-to-work transition. A
study by Johnston and Bachman9
found that extensive work experience
during high school was associated
with low levels of unemployment after
graduation, while failure to work dur­
ing the high school years was asso­
ciated with high subsequent unem­
ployment rates. Also, using data from
the National Longitudinal Surveys,
which trace the labor market experi­
ence of a group of teenagers over
time, researchers found that time
spent out of school and out of the
labor force represented a loss of ex­
perience that was associated with a
clear earnings disadvantage later on.
And, those who experienced unem­
ployment while in school could expect
to earn less on average than those who



were employed while in school or who
were out of the labor force and de­
voting full time to school activities.
The probability of being unemployed
at a later date was much higher if the
teenage period had been spent out of
work and out of school. It appears
then, that, on average, those having
difficult labor market experiences as
youths also have more difficulty later
on.
10

IV.
The
Transition
from School
to Work

The transition from school to work
takes place gradually for most young
persons, with school activity falling
off and labor force participation in­
creasing with age. Jobs held during
school tend to be part time and to
require little skill or training. How­
ever, the nature of unemployment
among young adults (20 to 24 years)
appears more in line with that of
workers 25 years and over than of
teenagers. For example, in 1979,
28.5 percent of all teenagers were
service workers, but the proportion
decreased to 13.5 percent among
young adults, much closer to the
average for workers 25 years and
over (11.5 percent).
As teenagers mature, their earnings
increase, especially if they are white
or male. Weekly earnings of teen­
agers who usually worked full time
averaged $143 in 1979, about 50
percent of the earnings of adult work­
ers. 25 years and over. The earnings
differential between white and black
workers and between male and
female workers increases with age.
For example, black and white teen­
agers both earned close to $140
per week in 1979; however, white
adult earnings were double those of
white teenagers at almost $280, while
those of black adults were only one
and one-half times the earnings of
teenage blacks, at $217. Overall,
there is less variation in weekly
earnings between teenage workers
than between adult workers.
For the most part, by the time work­
ers are 25 years old, labor force par­
ticipation has risen, work is predomi­
nantly full time, and unemployment

37




rates have fallen. Thus, while the
transition process can often be painful
and in some cases never satisfactorily
achieved, the majority of youth are
able to make the transition success­
fully.
e Johnston and Bachman, The Transition
from High School to Work.
10 Arvil A. Adams and Garth L. Mangum,
The Lingering Crisis of Y outh U nem ploy­
m ent (Kalamazoo, Mich., Upjohn Insti­
tute for Employment Research, 1978).

Table 7.

percent

Years of
School Com­
pleted
and Age

Men

Total
Participation
Rate

Women

U nem ploym ent
Rate

Participation
Rate

54.1
76.3

16.3
9.6

57.3
84.4

17.5
9.7

50.9
68.7

15.0
9.5

37.8
54.4

30.9
11.1

48.9
74.2

26.7
5.9

23.1
37.5

(1 )
18.5

40.7
72.2

24.5
18.8

46.1
96.5

25 .0
10.6

32.7
44.9

22.5

49.1
68.0

19.3
20.6

52.6
89.8

20.3
18.7

45 .4
47.6

18.1
24 .0

70.1
83.1

12.2
9.4

74.7
94.4

12.6
9.1

66.3
73.4

11.8
9.7

51.5
68.4

4.7
7.2

51.1
69.0

5.7
8.4

51.9
67.7

4.3
6.0

(1 )
85.5

(1 )
4.0

(1 )
84.2

(1 )
4.0

(1 )
86.6

(1 )
4 .0

U nem ploym ent
Rate

Participation
Rate

U nem ploym ent
Rate

Total
16-19
20-24

Elementary School
Less than 8 years
16-19
20-24
8 years
16-19
20-24

(1 )

High School
1-3 years
16-19
20-24
4 years
16-19
20-24

College
1-3 years
16-19
20-24
4 years or more
16-19
20-24

(1 ) Percent not shown where base is less than 75,000.




Labor Force Participation and
Unemployment Rates of Persons
16 to 19 and 20 to 24 Years Old
by Educational Attainment.
March 1979.

percent

CHART 30
Employed Persons by Occupation
and Age.

P rofessional
and Technical

1979 Annual Averages.

Teenagers are more likely to be in
service occupations than older
workers.

M anagers
and A dm in ­
istrators
Sales
W orkers

Clerical
W orkers

Craft and
K in d red
W orkers

O peratives,
ex cep t
T ransport

Transport
E qu ipm en t
O peratives

Non farm
Laborers

P rivate
H ousehold
W orkers

O ther
Service
W orkers

Farm
W orkers

40




Age 16-19

Age 20-24

Age 25 and over

percent

CHART 31
Employed Persons by Industry
and Age.

Public A d­
m inistration

1979 Annual Averages.

Teenagers are much more concen­
trated in retail trade than older
workers.
Services

Finance,
Insurance and
R eal E state

1 3 .7

R etail Trade

4.3
4 .0
7.6
5.9

9.1
W holesale
T ra d e \
T ransportation
and P ublic '
U tilities

9.8

2 .5
>

2 .7

14 .9
15.1

6 .7

M anufacturing /
M ondurables
8 .4
M anufac­
turing
D urables

C onstruction
M ining




6.5

wm

0 .0 5

Age 16-19

A

8.0
6.6

-

1.0

Age 20-24

1.0

Age 25 and over

41

CHART 32.

median weekly earnings

Median Weekly Earnings of Those
Who Usually Work Full Time by
Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin.
1979 Annual Averages.

Teenagers who usually worked full
time in 1979 averaged about 50
percent of the earnings of workers
age 25 and over.

42



16-19 20-24
254All full-time workers

16-19

20-24
Men

25 +

16-19

20-24
Women

25 4-

median weekly earnings




CHART 3 2 .- continued.




Bureau of Labor Statistics
Regional Offices

Region I
1603 JFK Federal Building
Government Center
Boston, Mass. 02203
Phone- (617) 223-6761

Region IV
1371 Peachtree Street, N.E.
Atlanta, Ga. 30367
Phone: (404) 881-4418

Region V
Region II
Suite 3400
1515 Broadway
New York, N Y. 10036
Phone: (212) 944-3121

Region III
3535 Market Street
P.O. Box 13309
Philadelphia, Pa. 19101
Phone: (215) 596-1154




9th Floor
Federal Office Building
230 S. Dearborn Street
Chicago, III. 60604
Phone: (312) 353-1880

Region VI
Second Floor
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Dallas, Tex. 75202
Phone: (214) 767-6971

Regions VII and VIII
911 Walnut Street
Kansas City, Mo. 64106
Phone: (816) 374-2481

Regions IX and X
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Box 36017
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Phone: (415) 556-4678