July 26, 2004
Typically, youths who are enrolled in school are less likely to be in the labor force than those who are not enrolled in school.
In 1969 and 1979, when the baby boomers composed the entire youth population, their school enrollment rates were 46.6 percent and 42.1 percent, respectively. Even with the high percentage of young men enrolled in school in the late 1960s, generation X and the echo boomers in later years had higher school enrollment rates than the baby boom generation had.
Conversely, in every age-and-sex subset of the youth population other than women aged 20 to 24 years, the labor force participation rate was lower in 2002 than it had been in 1979. From 1979 through 2002, the overall labor force participation rate for persons 16 to 24 years of age similarly edged down as their school enrollment rate rose.
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.