Regrettably, the last decade in the United States has been labeled a “lost decade” by a number of economic analysts. Total payroll employment failed to experience any net growth between 2000 and 2010, yielding a decade with the poorest job creation performance in the past 70 years. All persons under 55 were less likely to be working in 2010 than in 2000 with the decline being strongly connected with one’s age. Employment has declined more among teens (16-19 years old) and young adults (20-24 years old) than any other age group in the country. Job growth after the end of the Great Recession of 2007-09 has left our teens far behind, having not generated even one net new job for them since the first quarter of 2010. In the “full employment” year of 2000, 45 percent of the nation’s teens were employed during an average month. By 2003, their employment-population ratio had declined to 36.8 percent and remained stagnant while all other age groups saw an increase in their employment rates between 2003 and 2007. By 2007, the teen employment-population ratio dropped slightly below 35 percent and declined steadily through the Great Recession and the jobless recovery. In 2010 and 2011, slightly less than 26 percent of the nation’s teens held any type of paid job, the lowest employment rate in the history of our country in the post-World War II era.
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