Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Teenage recession 

Ironman dates one starting at January 2007.
Why, you ask? Well, there's no delicate way to say this - it's because teens are the most marginal of employees in the United States.

Here's what we mean by teens being marginal employees. Since the vast majority of teens Age 16-19 are dependents of other income-earning individuals and who do not need to fully support themselves as a result, teens are able to enter or leave the workforce without many of the same penalties that fully self-sufficient individuals would face. By comparison, only seniors, those near, at or above retirement age, might also be considered to be marginal employees in this regard, as they often have retirement income upon which to support themselves should they not have an income-generating job.

Teens are concentrated in a few industries. Here in Minnesota,

More than 125,082 teens ages 14 to 18 worked in all sectors of Minnesota�s economy during third quarter 2006, the most recent period for which data is available. They tended to be concentrated, however, in certain industries, particularly those that have relatively low-skill requirements and low pay. Overall, youth earned only $672 per month during third quarter 2006, compared to the total work force that earned $3,603 each month. Statistics show that several industries in Minnesota rely on youth labor during the summer months. Youth workers are most concentrated in food service and drinking places within the accommodation and food services sector, with over 36,300 youth, age 14 through 18, comprising 21 percent of the work force during third quarter 2006. Because state law prohibits minors from serving liquor, youth are mostly employed in limited service eating places and full service restaurants. On average, youth earned $550 per month in food service with the addition of tips that likely were not captured in full in these wage figures.

The retail trade sector absorbed the second highest number of teens: over 32,800�almost 11 percent of the labor force�were employed in this industry during the third quarter of 2006. Youth were spread across the spectrum of retail stores with the highest concentrations in food and beverage and in merchandise stores. Youth in this industry sector earned an average of $587 per month during the summer 2006, with the lowest pay occurring in clothing and accessory stores. Low wages in this industry might be compensated by benefits, which teens may value more highly than do adult workers, such as store discounts and the perceived status of being employed in popular shopping and hang-out spots.

Large numbers, almost 8,000, are also employed in health care and social assistance with the highest concentration in nursing and residential care facilities. This industry offers average monthly earnings of $729 and predominantly attracts female teens.

Retail trade has dropped quite a bit, but accommodation and food service employment nationally has been up over the last eighteen months. The local story here has been that part-time employment has been harder to come by. Perhaps Ironman can turn his attentions next to part time versus full time teen employment.