New Report Focuses on Youth in Oregon’s Labor Force

Oregon added tens of thousands of new jobs while recovering from the Great Recession, but recent job growth completely overlooked younger workers. There were fewer workers ages 14 to 21 in 2012 than in 2010. Our new report Endangered: Youth in the Labor Force is an overview of the labor market situation faced by teens and young adults.

Key Findings from the Report
Young workers account for a disproportionate share of overall unemployment and falling labor force participation. Young people ages 16 to 24 make up 13 percent of the labor force, but accounted for 29 percent of Oregon’s unemployed in 2013 and more than one-quarter of the decline in the state’s overall labor force participation rates since 2000.

The share of younger workers in the workforce has declined. Younger workers are less common, even in businesses that traditionally employ a lot of young workers, such as hotels and restaurants.

The share of unemployed young people with no previous work experience nearly doubled since the early 2000s, making it harder for them to compete with experienced applicants.
Although youth labor market woes are sometimes blamed on stricter regulations, current state and federal regulations for hiring youth have been in place for decades and predate the start of the downward trend in teen labor force participation.

The Great Recession did not increase the share of “idle” youth – those neither in the labor force nor enrolled in school – which is typically about 10 percent of the youth.
Many youth are forgoing early work experience to gain formal education, which could pay off long-term because college graduates have higher lifetime earnings than their peers with a high school degree.