Teenagers are getting squeezed out of the labor force in record numbers as unemployment among the youngest workers remains at astronomical levels nearly five years after the last recession ended, according to a study from the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
The study found that numbers of working teenagers has plunged by nearly half over a decade, to 24 percent in 2011 from 44 percent in 2000. Nationally, the unemployment rate among teens is 25 percent, compared with less than 7 percent for all workers.
“If this were any other group, you would call it a Great Depression,” said Andrew Sum, the Northeastern University economist who coauthored the study.
Competition from older, more experienced workers pushed into lower-skilled jobs because of the weak economy has crowded out teenagers from traditional jobs in retail, restaurants, and other lower paying service industries, Sum said. This lack of opportunity could have long-term effects on teens, the labor force, and the broader economy as young people fail to gain the experience that might help them advance careers and become more productive workers, resulting in lower earnings over a working life.