Teenage Workers Bear Brunt of Recession Job Losses

By Millicent Lawton — December 04, 1991 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

WASHINGTON--Teenage workers were the labor group hit hardest by the 1990-91 economic recession, according to a study released last week by the Children’s Defense Fund.

The study--an analysis by the C.D.F. and Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies of U.S. Labor Department data for the first five months of 1990 and of 1991--found that workers under age 25 bore the brunt of job losses during the period.

Of those young workers, youths ages 16 to 19 experienced the largest shrinkage in available jobs. More than 67 percent, or 702,000, of the 1.03 million jobs lost among young workers, were lost among teenagers.

Over all, workers 24 and younger absorbed 86 percent of the 1.2 million jobs lost among all ages between early 1990 and early 1991.

While they suffered nearly all of the net job loss, workers under age 25 hold only about 15 percent of all jobs.

High-school dropouts among young workers were also harder hit than were graduates, the study said.

The recession’s effect on young, black high-school dropouts was particularly devastating, the study said.

The employment rate of that group dropped by almost 21 percent during the period. In the first five months of 2990, before the recession began, nearly one-third of young, black high-school dropouts were employed. By this year, only one-fourth of that group held jobs.

Such unemployment reflects both the fact that young workers cannot find jobs and that they are too discouraged to enter or stay in the job market, the report said.

Not only did the official unemployment rate for workers under age 25 jump from an average of 11.1 percent during the first five months of 1990 to 13.4 percent during the same period in 1991, the study said, but the labor-force participation rate of young adults fell, reflecting worsening employment prospects.

The employment losses among young workers during the 1990-91 recession have erased many of the gains made by that group during the late 1980’s, the study said. For example, job losses among young, black high-school dropouts during the study period did away with all of the gains that group had made since 1985, the report said.

The statistics have significance for families and children, the study noted, because two-thirds of the job losses occurred among young workers who were no longer students and, thus, were more likely to be responsible for supporting themselves and others.

Copies of the report, “Young Workers, Children, and the Recession,” are available at no charge from the C.D.F., 122 C St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.

Coverage of policy, government and politics, and systems leadership is supported in part a grant from by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, at Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.
A version of this article appeared in the December 04, 1991 edition of Education Week as Teenage Workers Bear Brunt of Recession Job Losses


English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
Experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.
4 min read
Leo Hahn, 11, gets the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Education How Schools Are Getting Kids the COVID Shot, and Why Some Aren’t
Some district leaders say offering vaccine clinics, with the involvement of trusted school staff, is key to helping overcome hesitancy.
5 min read
A girl walks outside of a mobile vaccine unit after getting the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine, outside P.S. 277, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Education Biden Administration Urges Schools to Provide COVID-19 Shots, Information for Kids
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host vaccine clinics for kids and information on benefits of the shots.
2 min read
President Joe Biden, and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Education Civil Rights Groups Sue Tennessee Over Law Against Transgender Student Athletes
The state law bars transgender athletes from playing public high school or middle school sports aligned with their gender identity.
3 min read
Amy Allen, the mother of an 8th grade transgender son, speaks after a Human Rights Campaign round table discussion on anti-transgender laws in Nashville, Tenn. on May 21, 2021.
Amy Allen, the mother of an 8th grade transgender son, speaks after a Human Rights Campaign round table discussion on anti-transgender laws in Nashville, Tenn. on May 21, 2021.
Mark Humphrey/AP