IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Why is There A Youth Labor Market Problem?

Listed author(s):
  • Richard B. Freeman

This paper examines what is known about the causes of the high and increasing levels of youth joblessness and related problems in the youth labor market. Partly because of inconsistencies in reported rates of youth employment across surveys and partly because of problems in measuring key social variables, it is difficult to reach firm conclusions. As far as can be told, much of the relatively high rate of youth joblessness can be attributed to turnover and mobility patterns that are normal in the U.S. economy, but much is also directly related to a dearth of jobs. Demand forces, which have come to be neglected in favor of supply in much popular discussion of youth joblessness, are major determinants of variation in youth employment over time and among areas. For groups facing the most severe joblessness problems, however, the difficulty due to lack of jobs appears to be compounded by problems of employability related to deleterious social patterns. Surprisingly, perhaps, the factors that determine the probability that young persons end up employed or jobless differ substantively from those that determine wages. The paper explains the decline in the earnings of young workers relative to old workers in terms of the increased number of young persons. It speculates that the decline in relative wages may have contributed significantly to the stable ratio of employment to population among young whites. The causes of the downward trend in youth employment for nonwhites -- which constitute one of the major developments of the period -- remain a conundrum.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0365.

in new window

Date of creation: Jun 1979
Publication status: published as The Youth Labor Market Problem in the United States: An Overview , Richard B. Freeman, James L. Medoff.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0365
Note: LS
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Edward M. Gramlich, 1976. "Impact of Minimum Wages on Other Wages, Employment, and Family Incomes," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 7(2), pages 409-462.
  2. Stephen T. Marston, 1976. "Employment Instability and High Unemployment Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 7(1), pages 169-210.
  3. Beverly Duncan, 1965. "Dropouts and the Unemployed," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 121-121.
  4. Richard B. Freeman, 1979. "The Effect of Demographic Factors on Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(3), pages 289-318.
  5. Ragan, James F, Jr, 1977. "Minimum Wages and the Youth Labor Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 59(2), pages 129-136, May.
  6. Arnold Katz, 1973. "Teenage Employment Effects of State Minimum Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(2), pages 250-256.
  7. Philip G. Cotterill & Walter J. Wadycki, 1976. "Teenagers and the Minimum Wage in Retail Trade," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 11(1), pages 69-85.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0365. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.