New stats from the U.S. Labor Department show that fewer than half (48.8%) of Americans age 16 to 19 were either working or looking for work in June. That’s a decline from 51.6% in June 2006 and far below the 60.2% teen-labor rate of June 2000.
In contrast, look at the previous generation of teenagers, in which more than two-thirds (67.7%) of 16- to 19-year-olds were working or looking for work in June of 1978, according to a USA Today report.
So where are all the teens? Not all are at home playing video games. The Labor Department says nearly 38% of teens age 16 to 19 were enrolled in school in July 2006, more than three times the number from two decades ago.
Plus, teens who want to work are having trouble finding jobs in some regions. The unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds ran at 15.8% in June, more than three times the overall workforce rate.
Why? Mark Zandi, Moody’s Economy.com chief economist, was quoted in USA Today as saying, “Competition from foreign immigrants and older workers for jobs previously held by teenagers has steadily intensified." Seeing such competition, teens may just give up trying to work.