Labor Force Participation Hits Record Low for Americans in Their 20s

March 11, 2014 - 10:09 AM
Barack Obama at Miami-Dade College graduation

President Barack Obama at the Miami-Dade College graduation on April 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) - The labor force participation rate in 2013 for Americans in their twenties hit the lowest level recorded since 1981, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics started releasing employment data on people in the full age bracket of 20 through 29.

The labor force participation rate for people ages 20 through 24—which BLS has been tracking since 1948—hit a 42-year low in 2013.

Since 2008, the last year before President Barack Obama took office, the number of Americans in their twenties who were not in the labor force during the average month has climbed from 8,756,000 to 10,511,000—an increase of 1,755,000 or 20 percent.

The 10,511,000 Americans age 20 through 29 who were not in the labor force in 2013 is the highest ever recorded by BLS.

Labor Force Participation Americans in Their 20s

The labor force participation rate is the percentage of people in the civilian noninstitutional population who either have a job or actively sought one in the past four weeks. The full civilian noninstitutional population includes all people resident in the United States age 16 or older who are not on active duty in the military or in an institution such as a prison, nursing home or mental hospital. The labor force participation rate for people in a certain age bracket is the percentage of people who have a job or actively sought one in the last four weeks who are part of the civilian noninstitutional population for that age bracket.

Labor Force Participation Americans 20-24

The labor force participation rate for 20-29 year olds in the average month of 2013 was 75.5 percent, according to data published by the BLS. That is down 3.3 percentage points from 2008, when it was 78.8 percent. Labor force participation for Americans in their twenties peaked in 1989 at 81.3 percent.

In 2013, the labor force participation rate for 20 through 24 year olds was 70.7 percent, the lowest it has been since 1971. In 2008, the last year before Obama took office, the labor force participation rate for 20 through 24 year olds was 74.3 percent. It has dropped 3.6 percentage points in the last five years.

The overall labor force participation rate--for the entire civilian noninstitutional population, including all age groups 16 and over--was 63.2 percent n 2013, a 35-year low. The last time participation in the labor force was that low was in 1978.

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