Why the Workforce Is Lacking Young People

November 11, 2013

A job used to be the next step after a diploma. But now, young people aren't in any rush to start working, says CNN Money.

  • Less than 78 percent of people aged 20 to 34 either have jobs or are looking for work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • That's down from the peak of 83 percent in 2000, and the lowest since the 1970s.

Recessions are particularly hard on the young, with last-in, first-out policies at many organizations and a preference at firms to freeze hiring before they start laying off employees, which hurts recent grads.

"We used to say that a high school degree wasn't sufficient to provide a middle class income," says Bill Rodgers, a professor and chief economist at Rutgers University's Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. "Now we're saying no longer is a bachelor's degree."

But there are other reasons as well -- what economists call "structural changes" -- that could mean a permanent shift in workplace demographics.

  • Since 2000, married women between the ages of 25 and 34 have been leaving the labor force at a slightly higher rate than young people at large, according to BLS. There could be many reasons for that, but Rodgers thinks stagnant wages on top of rising child care costs are two of them.
  • The percentage of the people aged 55 and over in the workforce has gone from just over 30 percent in 2000 to over 40 percent currently, according to BLS.

The result is fewer opportunities on the lower end of the job ladder, which has kept a lot of millennials on the sidelines.

Source: Steve Hargreaves, "Why Young People Are Saying 'No' To the Workforce," CNN Money, October 22, 2013.

 

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