Press Release COVID-19 Economic Crisis and Recovery Health and Social Programs Workers

Young Workers Suffer More Than Other Age Groups in Pandemic-Stalled Labor Market

July 21, 2020

Contact: Karen Conner, 202-281-4159Mail_Outline

Washington DC — In a labor market reeling from the pandemic, declines in employment have disproportionately impacted young people. Labor Market Transitions of Young People During the Pandemic, published today by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), is a timely look at the most recent data showing the ups, and mostly downs, of youth employment during the pandemic, as well as comparisons to employment last year.

The key findings from the analysis are:

  • Young people (16 to 24) are unemployed and leave the labor force at higher rates than other age groups. 
  • This year, over 1.5 million fewer young people had jobs in June than March, and over 4 million fewer young people had jobs in June 2020 compared to June 2019. 
  • Among all young workers, those 20 to 24 suffered the largest employment declines of any other age group, with 3 million fewer employed this June than last June. 

“Given the recent rise in COVID cases, it seems increasingly unlikely that employment opportunities for young people will improve much, if at all, this summer,” said Hye Jin Rho, co-author of the analysis. “That’s just one more reason why Congress should immediately extend the extra $600 per week in Unemployment Insurance benefits, and continue to address economic security and inequality among young people that existed before the pandemic.”

Summer is typically when youth employment peaks. Employment for the youngest workers (16 to 19) typically rises about 5 to 7 percentage points during the summer. However, about one-in-three workers in this age range experienced a sharp drop in employment between March and April. It took until June for this age group to return to their March employment level. 

For young people in an expanded range of ages 16 to 29, young women are generally more likely than young men to move from employment to unemployment, and from being in the labor force to not in the labor force. In that same age group, Black and Hispanic workers are generally more likely than white workers to move from employment to unemployment, and from being in the labor force to being out of the labor force.

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