As Summer Jobs Season Begins, Teens Make Headway for the First Time Since 2012
Summer is typically the time of year when we see the highest rates of employment for teens — young people between the ages of 16 and 19. This group includes new high school graduates along with others in search of an opportunity to earn a few extra dollars while out of school for the summer. Based on this month’s jobs report, the 2015 summer job market for teens is off to a better start than last year. According to seasonally unadjusted teen employment-to-population (EPOP) ratios, 32.1 percent of all teens found employment in June 2015, compared to 30.9 percent in June 2014 (Figure A). However, this may actually be an understatement of the June 2015 increase. The White House suggests that an earlier-than-normal reference week for this year’s survey is capturing a smaller share of the usual June gains. June teen employment rates were essentially flat between June 2012 and June 2014.
Unadjusted Employment-Population Ratio, 16-19 years old, (June only) 2000-2015
Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey public data series
Racial differences in teen employment rates mirror those of adults – 35.5 percent of white teens were employed in June, compared to 26.7 percent of Hispanic teens and 20.8 percent of black teens.
The relatively improved June 2015 numbers reflect the fact that this summer teens are entering a stronger job market than the last several years. The average rate of job growth during the 12 months preceding June 2015 (July 2014-June 2015) was 245,000 jobs/month compared to 221,000 jobs/month during the 12 months preceding June 2014 and 175,000 jobs/month during the 12 months leading up to June 2012 (Table 1). Also, the adult unemployment rate (age 20 and older) is lower heading into the summer of 2015 than in previous years – 5.0 percent in May.
Average annual monthly job growth during 12 months preceding June, and adult (age 20 or older) unemployment rate in May, 2010-2015
|Average monthly job growth during 12 months preceding June||Adult (age 20 or older) unemployment rate in May|
Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey and Consumer Employment Statistics public data series
Despite the uptick in teen employment this June, employment rates for teens and prime age adults (age 25 to 54) remain well below pre-Great Recession levels. The longer-term pattern in June teen employment rates is consistent with the sharp decline in average annual teen employment rates since 2000. This partly reflects an ongoing increase in college enrollment (except for a post-2012 decline), but is also the result of relatively weaker labor markets that have persisted since 2000. Based on a recent EPI report, the share of young high school graduates, age 17 to 20, who are not working and not enrolled in school is also well above the 2000 rate.