Unemployment rates by age and the baby boom

July 22, 2004

Younger workers tend to have higher unemployment rates than workers in other age groups. Workers past age 24 typically have lower unemployment rates.

Average annual unemployment rate of men, by age, selected years, 1959-1999
[Chart data—TXT]

The post-World War II baby-boom generation—those born between 1946 and1964—has had a tremendous impact on the labor market. The oldest baby boomers began entering the labor force in 1962. By 1969, baby boomers composed the entire 16- to 24-year-old population. Only by 1989 were all members of this generation above age 24 and no longer part of the youth population.

By expanding the share of the labor force made up of young people in the 1960s and 1970s, the entry of the baby boomers into the job market exerted upward pressure on the Nation’s overall unemployment rate.

During the 1980s, when the youngest baby boomers had matured past age 24 and into groups with lower unemployment rates, increases in their share of the labor force exerted downward pressure on the overall unemployment rate.

These data are from the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of households conducted by the Bureau of Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To learn more about effects of the baby boom, generation X, and the echo-boom generation on the labor marker see "The labor force and unemployment: three generations of change," by Jessica R. Sincavage, in the Monthly Labor Review, June 2004.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Unemployment rates by age and the baby boom on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2004/jul/wk3/art04.htm (visited September 27, 2016).


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