Category Archives: jobs

Older Teens, Younger Teens Experiencing Different Employment Trends

Young barista by Brooke Cagle via Unsplash -

How has the employment situation for U.S. teens changed since November 2022?

We've asked this question because we're playing a game of catch up in looking at teen employment trends since we last checked in with them. To start, we need to first look at how November 2022's jobs data for teens has been revised. Here is a quick summary for that month's seasonally-adjusted initial employment estimates for teens Age 16-17, Age 18-19, and the combined Age 16-19 groups, along with the revised estimates for each group:

Seasonally-Adjusted Teen Employment Data for November 2022
Age Group Age 16-17 Age 18-19 Age 16-19
Initial Estimate (Dec-2022) 2,232,000 3,504,000 5,741,000
Current Estimate (May-2023) 2,241,000 3,500,000 5,740,000
Change +9,000 -4,000 -1,000

Unlike non-seasonally adjusted data, the indicated figures listed in this table for the Age 16-17 group to those for the Age 18-19 group does not perfectly add up to the data for the combined Age 16-19 population. That is because the data for each of these demographic groupings has been subjected to its own seasonal adjustment by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Now, the real catch up begins! The following chart presents the monthly estimates for teen employment from November 2022 through the just-released initial estimate for April 2023:

U.S. Teen Employment, November 2022 - April 2023

The chart captures three overall trends for teen employment:

  • After initially dipping in December 2022, total teen employment (Age 16-19) has increased, rising by nearly 1.0% from November 2022.
  • That overall pattern has been driven by older teens (Age 18-19), which rose by almost 2.7% from November 2022's level.
  • Younger teens (Age 16-17) experienced the opposite pattern, seeing an increase in December 2022 before falling off in the months since by 1.4% from November 2022's total.

The final chart puts this data into a longer term perspective, running from January 2016 through April 2023:

U.S. Teen Employment, January 2016 - April 2023

Here, we find the trends for overall teen employment and older teen employment has been rising since the coronavirus pandemic recession. Employment for younger teens also rose during much of this period, but has been growing much more slowly than it has for older teens since February 2022. Older teens and younger teens have experienced different employment trends over the past 14 months.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Force Statistics (Current Population Survey - CPS). [Online Database.] Accessed: 5 May 2023.

Image credit: Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.

Teen Employment Up, Age 20+ Employment Down Again in November 2022

November 2022 marks the second consecutive month in which U.S. teen employment was up, but Age 20+ employment was reported down.

Here are the seasonally adjusted numbers from the November 2022 Employment Situation report, with their change from October 2022:

  • Total Employment  (Age 16+): 158,470,000 (-138,000).
  • Adult Employment  (Age 20+): 152,729,000 (-287,000).
  • Teen Employment (Age 16-19):   5,741,000 (+149,000).

Since each of these data series undergoes its own seasonal adjustment, the figures won't add together as the non-seasonally adjusted data does. For the sake of sanity, here's that data along with its change from the previous month:

  • Total Employment  (Age 16+): 158,749,000 (-395,000).
  • Adult Employment  (Age 20+): 153,247,000 (-475,000).
  • Teen Employment (Age 16-19):   5,502,000 (+80,000).

The following chart presents the seasonally-adjusted employment data for the working teen population, breaking down the data for younger teens (Age 16-17) and older teens (Age 18-19).

U.S. Teen Employment, January 2016 - November 2022

According to the seasonally-adjusted data, November 2022 saw 43,000 more 16-to-17 year olds successfully gain employment, while the number of working 18-to-19 year olds increased by 115,000 above October 2022's level. Only the jobs data for Age 16-17 working teens shows a flat-to-downward trend since April 2022. Older teens have experienced an upward employment trend during this period, which has not yet reached its pre-coronavirus recession peak.

Looking at the Age 20+ population, the bulk of reduced employment is taking place in the prime Age 25-54 demographic, with the Age 25-34 and Age 45-54 groups within this population having the biggest reduction in jobs during recent months.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Force Statistics (Current Population Survey - CPS). [Online Database.] Accessed: 2 December 2022.

Teen Employment Sees Small Gain in October 2022

After falling last month, the number of American teens with jobs slightly increased in October 2022.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the seasonally-adjusted number of employed teens rose by just 27,000 in October 2022, with 5,592,000 teens counted as having jobs during the month. The following chart shows that small net change, but also illustrates some bigger changes for the working teen population.

U.S. Teen Employment, January 2016 - October 2022

The chart shows 102,000 more 16 and 17 year-olds having jobs than did in September 2022, but 75,000 fewer 18 and 19 year-olds. [Note: Each data series in the chart has been processed through its own seasonal adjustment by the BLS' data jocks. Those adjustments are why the indicated count of working 16-17 year-olds and 18-19-year olds doesn't sum up to the total for Age 16-19 year olds. If you're a stickler for that detail, the raw data does. The BLS counted 2,193,000 working younger teens and 3,229,000 older teens within the Age 16-19 demographic, for a total of 5,422,000.]

The small month-over-month net changes in the number of working teens means there was also little change for the employed-to-teen-population. Here's the chart showing no meaningful change in existing trends.

U.S. Teen Employment to Population Ratio, January 2016 - October 2022

Although it ticked upward by a small amount, October 2022's figures did nothing the alter the generally trajectory for teen employment of recent months.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Force Statistics (Current Population Survey - CPS). [Online Database.] Accessed: 4 November 2022.

Teen Employment Falls in September 2022

Last month's unexpected surge in the number of teens with jobs has largely dissipated. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of employed teens dropped by 213,000, falling to a seasonally-adjusted 5,565,000 in September 2022.

The following chart indicates most of that decline occurred among younger teens, while older teens saw a much smaller month-over-month reduction.

U.S. Teen Employment, January 2016 - September 2022

Readers should note that each data series in this chart has been put through its own seasonal adjustment by the BLS' analysts, which is why the figures for the Age 16-17 and Age 18-19 subgroups don't add up to the total for the Age 16-19 population. The non-seasonally-adjusted data does, which shows much larger month-over-month reductions for all groups than what's indicated in the chart. The factor that accounts for why the seasonal adjustment works that way is the annual start of the school year in September, which sees teens return to classrooms across the U.S.

Looking at the chart showing the employed-to-population percentages for each of these groups shows the effect of an interesting demographic quirk.

U.S. Teen Employment to Population Ratio, January 2016 - September 2022

Here we find the seasonally-adjusted share of working Age 16-17 teens declined, as might be expected, but the percentage of Age 18-19 teens with jobs increased to the highest level shown in the data. Since the seasonally-adjusted data shows declines for both groups, the only way that can happen is if the estimated population of Age 18-19 year olds shrank during the month. Which, thanks to a quirk of statistical noise in the BLS' household survey data, is exactly what happened!

Finally, the topline seasonally-adjusted numbers for the September 2022 employment situation report indicate 158,936,000 Americans are employed, a month-over-month increase of 204,000 with the unemployment rate falling from 3.7% to 3.5% . The teen unemployment rate jumped from 10.4% to 11.4% in this period, consistent with how it has varied during the past year.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Force Statistics (Current Population Survey - CPS). [Online Database.] Accessed: 7 October 2022.

Teen Employment Surges in August 2022 as Teens Stay on the Job

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported higher than expected job growth in the U.S. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 315,000 in August 2022 to a seasonally adjusted level of 152,744,000. Meanwhile, total employment captured in the BLS' monthly survey of households increased by 442,000 to reach an estimated level of 158,732,000. But because more Americans entered the civilian labor force during the month, the unemployment rate rose from 3.5% to 3.7%.

Those are the topline numbers from the report. Since we're following the employment situation for teens, we have to dig deeper into the household survey for that data. Here, we find that both the number of employed teens and the share of working among the Age 16-19 population in the U.S. surged during August 2022. The first chart shows the seasonally adjusted number of employed teens for Age 16-19 teens, along with the Age 16-17 and Age 18-19 subsets of that population from January 2016 through August 2022. Note: since each of these individual data series has been put through its own seasonal adjustment from the raw data, the numbers shown in the chart won't directly add together.

U.S. Teen Employment, January 2016 - August 2022

Starting with the Age 16-17 portion of the teen workforce, the number of working teens reversed a three month downtrend, jumping 179,000 to 2,255,000. Teens Age 18-19 increased by 142,000 to 3,485,000. The official total for all working teens increased by 363,000 to 5,778,000. Notice that while both the Age 16-17 and Age 18-19 subsets are both still below their peak values shown in the chart, the combined number of Age 16-19 year olds has hitthe highest level during the period covered by the chart.

The same is true when we look at the teen employment-to-population ratio for each demographic in the next chart:

U.S. Teen Employment to Population Ratio, January 2016 - August 2022

Now, let's compare the month over month numeric change in the seasonally adjusted total number of working teens with the change in the total number of Americans counted as having jobs in the BLS' household survey. Total employment increased by 442,000, the number of working teens increased by 363,000, which would account for 82% of the net change. The gain in jobs appears to have been dominated by newly employed teenagers being added to the U.S. labor force.

Or would, if the seasonal adjustment didn't give these numbers an apples and oranges character. To address that deficiency, we dug deeper into month's household data to get the raw, nonseasonally adjusted numbers, which do directly add together.

Here, we found the total of employed Americans shrank by 353,000, dropping to 158,714,000 from July to August 2022. In this case, the seasonally adjusted figure showed an increase instead because this decline is much less than would be expected per the seasonal pattern for employment at this time of year. Looking at teens, we find the same pattern. We find the nonseasonally adjusted total number of employed teens dropped by 310,000 from July to August 2022. That figure represents 88% of the actual net month over month change in the household survey's count.

This outcome helps demonstrate the extent to which the employment situation for teens, the most marginal age demographic in the civilian labor force, can affect the topline numbers reported in the monthly employment situation report. It is why we pay attention to it. In August 2022, more teens staying at their jobs than expected accounted for the vast majority of all the positive net gain in the August 2022 report.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Force Statistics (Current Population Survey - CPS). [Online Database.] Accessed: 2 September 2022.