Trends in youth employment
In 2018, 50 percent of all youth, ages 16–24, were employed, either full- or part-time. Youth enrolled in high school had an employment rate of 20 percent, while the rate was 45 percent for those in college, either full- or part-time. Those not enrolled in school had an employment rate of 72 percent. Conversely, 28 percent of this group was not employed, down from a peak of 37.5 percent in 2009 (Appendix 1). However, only 9 percent of youth not enrolled in school (in 2018) were considered unemployed; another 21 percent were not in the labor force.*
From 1993 to 2000, employment among youth in all groups generally increased slightly, followed by a decrease from 2000 to 2003. At that point, employment rates held steady until 2006, when they again began to decline. After a steep drop in 2008 and 2009, employment for those youth not enrolled in school has since gone up, from 63 to 72 percent from 2009 to 2018. Employment among high school students has increased only slightly since 2009 (from 16 to 20 percent) and has remained fairly steady for college students over that time period.
* The unemployment rate includes only those who are actively seeking work (in the labor force). It does not include those who, for reasons of preference or discouragement, are not seeking employment.