Friday, July 16, 2010

United States: Older Workers Outnumber Teenage Workers

According to press reports, number of workers over age 65 who are in the labor force has passed the number of teenagers-—workers aged 16-19—-who are in the labor force for the first time since records were kept in 1948. According to some experts, over the past decade older workers have tended to hang on to their paychecks longer, owing to sagging stock portfolios and falling home prices. The disparity in numbers of workers in these two groups, and the high unemployment rate of teenagers, has some calling for a different minimum wage for teenagers and others for lower Social Security age, at least temporarily.

Other commentators, particularly on the New York Times Economix blog, point out that there isn't much meaning other than demographic information to this statistic. In other words, it is a natural reflection of 65 no longer being the Social Security retirement age and of a greater life expectancy. Furthermore, it is a raw number presentation, rather than a presentation of the labor participation rates of those two age groups.

Sources: San Francisco Chronicle "Working seniors outnumber teens in labor force" (July 14, 2010); New York Times "Seniors Outnumber Teenagers in Job Force" (July 15, 2010)

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