Unemployment by Age

How does unemployment vary over the life cycle? Teenagers generally have the highest unemployment rate of any demographic group, and nonwhite teenagers in recent years have experienced renouncement rates between 30 and 50 percent. Is this employment frictional, structural, or cyclical Recent’ evidence indicates that, particularly for rites, teenage unemployment has a large frictional component. Teenagers move in and out of the labor force very frequently. They get jobs quickly and change jobs often. The ave~e duration of teenage unemployment is only half that of adult unemployment by contrast, the average length of a typical job is 12 Urns greater for adults than teenagers. In most ‘ears, half the unemployed teenagers are. “new entrants” who have never had a paying job before. All these factors suggest that teenage unemployment” is largely frictional; that ill; it represents the job search and turnover necessary for young people to discover their personal skills and to learn what working is all about.

But teenagers do eventually learn the skills and  work habits of experienced workers. Table 31-4 shows the unemployment rates’ at different ages for blacks and. whites in 1999. The acquisition of experience and training. along with a greater desire and need . for full-time work, is the reason middle-aged workers have much lower unemployment rates than teenagers.