Another BLS Bummer: Teen Employment Still Weak

Published on August 20th, 2014

 As if the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics reports aren’t discouraging enough, the Bureau’s regularly issued supplemental economic surveys are bummers too. On August 13 in its Employment and Unemployment Survey among Youth, Summer 2014 analysis, BLS reported that the number of employed youth, age 16 to 24, increased by 2.1 million to 20.1 million; 51.9 percent of young people were employed in July, up from 50.7 in the same month last year. July normally represents the summertime peak for youth employment.
 Superficially, the uptick can be interpreted as mildly positive. But breaking down the BLS data into demographic and socioeconomic subsections and comparing it to past years, July’s statistics are troubling. In the 1970s, nearly two-thirds of teenage boys age 16-19 had summer jobs. In 2014, less than a third did. The decline is even more dramatic for 16- and 17-year-olds. Just 20 percent of them worked this summer, down from about 45 percent in the 1970s.
 Low-income and minority teens find today’s job search especially challenging. This summer, black teenagers age 16 and 17 were barely half as likely as whites to work, 11.5 percent compared to 23 percent in 2013. Only 11 percent of teens whose families earn less than $30,000 a year worked this summer, versus 21 percent with family incomes between $30,000 and $75,000 and 26 percent who earn $75,000 or more.
 One major change in the labor pool since the 1970s when the teen job market was still vigorous is the 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act. When IRCA became law, previously unemployable aliens (because of their illegal immigrant status) suddenly became hirable and could legally do the jobs Americans once did – restaurant, carpentry, landscaping and entry-level factory work.
 Immigrant displacement of American workers remains strong, especially among teens who suffer short- and long-term. Not only can’t unemployed teens earn money to help out at home or to generate disposable income, but they don’t learn work skills that will come in handy if they should ever be lucky enough to find a full-time job. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that, in July, 5.9 million Americans were missing from the workforce.
 When President Obama talks about our children and their future, he doesn’t mean unemployed American teenagers. Obama is talking about Central American alien border surgers or illegal immigrant DREAMers. Obama is so enamored of aliens that he calls them “Champions of Change” and honored them at a lavish White House ceremony earlier this summer.
 Please go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to stop President Obama from expanding his 2012 executive amnesty which would grant work permits to 5 million or more illegal aliens.


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