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Spotlight on Statistics

July 2011

BLS Spotlight on Statistics: School's Out

Audio Script

For most young people, there are few moments more exciting than the last day of school. No more teachers, no more books (for a couple of months at least), and the prospect of long, sunny, and warm days ahead and, perhaps, a first entry into the labor force.

What BLS data describe the activities of the 38 million young adults between 16 and 24 years of age during the summer months?

  • The employment-population ratio measures the proportion of the population that is employed. The employment-population ratio for youth has been in a rather steep decline in recent years. In July 2010, the employment-population ratio was at an historic low of 48.9 percent for youth age 16-24.
  • The low employment-population ratio has been accompanied by a large and growing number of youth attending summer school. The percentage of youth attending summer school recently reached a record high: 34.9 percent for 16 to 24 year olds.
  • The young people who do work over the summer are most likely to find jobs in the accommodation and food services and retail trade industries. Overall, roughly equal numbers of young men and young women are employed during the summer, but the proportions of young men and young women varies by industry. Young women outnumber young men in the education and health services industry; in contrast, in the manufacturing and construction industries, there are more young men than young women.
  • Then there are those that look for work, but don't find a job: The unemployment rate for young men was consistently higher than that for young women in July between 2007 and 2010. Unemployment among black and Hispanic youth was significantly higher, especially among black youth.

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