The Dynamics of Youth Unemployment
NBER Working Paper No. 274 (Also Reprint No. r0284)
This paper analyzes the dynamics of youth unemployment. Three broad conclusions emerge. First, the problem of youth joblessness extends beyond the unemployed. We find that over one-half of youth unemployment spells end in labor force withdrawal. Much of youth non-employment is not picked up in the official unemployment statistics, because many young people give up the search for work and leave the labor force. Second, a large part of youth unemployment is accounted for by a relatively small, hard core group of young people who experience long spells of unemployment. While most unemployment spells are short, this is due to the high rates of labor force withdrawal, rather than to job finding. Among male teenagers out of school, for example, we find that over half of unemployment was due to those with more than six months of unemployment in the year. Third, a shortage of attractive jobs is the principle source of long term non-employment. While instability and frequent turnover are major factors in determining the overall pattern of teenage unemployment, we find that the lack of desirable employment opportunities is the crux of the problem for those most seriously affected by youth unemployment.