October 28, 2002
The July labor force participation rate for teens dropped from 65.4 percent to 62.3 percent between 1994 and 2000. This happened even as the unemployment rate for teenagers was falling to its lowest level in three decades.
If adverse labor market conditions, the usual explanation for lower labor market activity among teens, were not the reason for the decline, it could have been increasing school enrollment during the summer. The share of teenagers enrolled in school in July increased from 19.5 percent in 1994 to 27.0 percent in 2000.
Labor force participation rates for teens that are in school are roughly 20 percentage points below those for teens that are not enrolled in school in July. Thus, the increasing enrollment rate has exerted downward pressure on teen labor force participation rates.
These data are from the Current Population Survey and are not seasonally adjusted. There is more information in "Declining teen labor force participation" (PDF 71K), Issues in Labor Statistics, Summary 02-06, September 2002.