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Earlier this month saw the latest “Employment Situation” report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s what you and I know better as “the jobs report,” and while plenty of people have hot takes on the overall number most are–as usual–ignoring the youth numbers.
From the latest report: “the jobless rates for… teenagers (13.7 percent)…showed little or no change” when compared to the previous month. That previous month was Feb 2017, when the rate for teens 13 to 19 was 15.0%. According to the BLS, a change of less than 1.6% is not considered statistically significant. (The overall unemployment rate is down to 4.5%.)
Where things get interesting is when we start to put the numbers into context– namely the context of the past few years. A 13.7% rate compares favorably with March 2016 rate of 15.9%, and really looks great compared to previous years.
Here’s the breakdown:
13.7% March 2017
15.9% March 2016
17.6% March 2015
20.9% March 2014
That’s a steady decline in the jobless rate over the past three years for teenagers, a sign that prospects were looking up for those youth who wanted a job in an economy that was recovering from the 2008 recession. Backing that up are more facts from the BLS: teenage employment has been on the rise these past few years, a trend they say began in 2013.
Over the last year, however, the employment rate has changed little. In March of this year the employment-population ratio for teenagers was at 30.9%, which when compared to the March 2016 rate of 29.6% isn’t a statistically significant change as the BLS calculates things.
So these are the two stats to watch for watch for teenagers: the unemployment rate and the employment-population ratio. What we should all be looking for are swings of 1.6% or more, and we should be watching both stats equally. That’s what makes the past few years so interesting: while the unemployment rates can fluctuate and seem like there is a lot of action, the employment-population ratio tells a slightly more stable tale: with little change in either the teen (1.3% up) or overall (0.2%) rate.
TL;DR: Teens are doing better, but don’t stop socking away cash for a rainy day quite yet. (You’re allowed to do a little dance, however.)