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Why American teens have left the workforce in droves

School’s not out for summer for a growing amount of teens. A new study finds many high schoolers are ditching seasonal jobs in favor of academic classes and extracurricular activities.

“Teens are working less, both during the summer and during the school year. And what they’re doing instead is they’re using their time really well. Teen enrollment in school during the summer has quadrupled since the ‘80s and has doubled since 2000. And during the school year teens are now much more likely to just be enrolled in school and not trying to juggle both school and work,” Lauren Bauer, a co-author of the study and Brookings Institution economic studies fellow, tells Yahoo Finance’s “YFi PM.

Study finds the labor market behavior of 16–19-year-olds is different compared to other age groups.

According to the Hamilton Project at Brookings research, the labor market behavior of 16-19-year-olds is vastly different when compared to other age groups. The teen labor force participation rate hit an all-time high in 1979 of nearly 60%. That number dropped gradually until 2000, when it tumbled and plateaued to roughly 35 percent from 2010-2018.

“This decline in labor force participation rates among teens is really, really substantial and has impacted, in fact, aggregate labor force participation. So these changes that we’re seeing from teens working less than they used to has contributed more than one-third to the total decline from 2000 to now,” Bauer said.

Many high-schoolers are ditching summer jobs in favor of academic classes.

Bauer also notes there are serious returns to advancing education, like higher wages and lower unemployment. “To the extent that teens are substituting from working in the low wage labor market to making sure that they obtain those degrees that are really consequential for their long-term labor market outcomes, they’re doing a good job,” she said.

McKenzie Stratigopoulos is a producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @McKenzieBeehler

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