Which Age Group Has Been Most Screwed By the Labor Market?

This morning’s post about automation got me curious about the labor participation rate by age group. Here it is for the past couple of decades:

Labor participation for prime-age workers has changed only slightly, declining from 84 percent to 82 percent. The big change has been among young and old. Older workers have increased their labor participation rate by nearly 8 percentage points while young workers have reduced their labor participation by about 7 points. Labor participation among teenagers has plummeted by 17 points.

Most of this change happened between 2000 and 2010. Participation rates have been nearly dead flat for all age groups since then.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this, though the 2000-10 period coincides with the greatest impact of Chinese imports on American labor. I’m skeptical that these two things are related, however, since Chinese imports should mainly have affected American manufacturing, which employs mostly prime-age workers. And yet prime-age workers saw virtually no change in labor participation during that period. The drop was all among young workers.

For what it’s worth, there’s a similar pattern in wages. For both young and prime-age workers, wages have been about flat since 2000. Among workers age 55-64, wages are up 8 percent.

Anyway, the answer to the question in the headline is: young workers between the age of 16-24 have been screwed the worst. Conversely, prime-age workers have been doing OK, while older workers have been doing great.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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