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New monthly data series on school age youth.

A new monthly data series on the employment situation among youth 16 to 24 years old by their school enrollment status has recently been established. Publication began with data for January 1985 in the Febraury 1985 issue of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment and Earnings.

The monthly collection and publication of data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) on the school enrollment status of youth was recommended by the National Commission on Employment and Unemployment Statistics. The Commission determined that current information on school age youth was needed "to understand work and education choices, to design appropriate employment policies and training programs, and to help appraise the labor market attachment of students."

Prior to 1985, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published two types of information on the schol activity of youth. One series was based on the school enrollment status of 16- to 24-year-olds that was collected annually in the October supplement to the CPS. The other series was based on a "major activity" concept of "school" or "other" for 16- to 21-year-olds and was collected in the CPS each month. A major drawback of this latter series was that the school total excluded part-time students who reported work as their major activity. In October 1983, for example, the CPS supplement recorded 1.2 million more person 16 to 21 in both school and the labor force than the total derived from the regular, monthly major activity question.

The new monthly series replaces both t he major activity series, which was published in Employment and Earnings, and the annual series on school enrollment, published from the October CPS supplement. The new data have been collected on a trial basis since November 1983. For youth enrolled in school, employment is iterated by age, sex, race, level of school attended, full- or part-time college status, and full- or part-time employment status. For those not enrolled, the data are iterated by age, sex, race, years of school completed, and full- or part-time employment status.

Table 1 shows the extent to which school and work are combined and how participation in these activities varies between a typical school moth and the summer. In January 1984, 46 percent of the 16- to 24-year-old population was enrolled in school. About a third of the high school students and half of the full-time college students were in the labor force. Most students were employed only part time or were looking for part-time jobs; most youth not enrolled in school, as well as those enrolled only part time, were in the labor force on a full-time basis, with their labor force participation rates rising with the level of their educational attainment.

At the peak of the summer (July 1984), only 15 percent of the yout were enrolled in school, mostly at the college level. Therefore, the effect of school vacation was to increase sharply, and, of course, temporarily, t he number of out-of-school youth in the labor force. It should be pointed out in this context that these statistics do not measure "students" per se but rather those currently enrolled in school. This is a very important distinction, because, clearly, there are many continuing students who do not attend school in the summer months and thus cause marked changes in enrollment between April and October of each year. Ideally, it would be appropriate to develop a "students' measure," one that would determine that a person was enrolled in the past school year and intended to return to school in the fall. There are certain pitfalls with this approach, however--including the fact that intention do not always come to fruition--but the BLS is currently studying the possibility of expanding the measure in this way if it can be shown to have merit.

The data for January 1985 show patterns similar to those of a year earlier. But despite the fact that the population had decreased as the baby-bust generation continued to replace the baby-boom generation in the 16-24 age group, the size of the student labor force was relatively unchanged, as higher participation rates offset this population decline. Among those not enrolled in school, relatively more were employed and fewer unemployed than a year earlier, reflecting the continued economic recovery.

The new monthly school enrollment data are also a source of information on several other ussues related to youth. One is the size of the pool of out-of-school youth available for civilian work or for the Armed Forces. Rather than once a year in October, these data are now available simultaneously with the release of the monthly report on the Nation's employment situation.

Another area of interest is the effect of students on the overall unemployment rate. The new series can help to measure that impact more precisely, using the data on full- and part-time enrollment status. In April 1985, for example, the overall civilian unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, would have been 6.8 instead of 7.1 percent if teenagers (16- to 19-year-olds) in high school and college full time had been excluded from the employed and unemployed counts.

These data on youth according to their school enrollment status are published in table A-7 of Employment and Earnings, the BLS' monthly statistical compendium of labor force, employment, and unemployment statistics. Other information on these youth, such as the occupation of those employed, are available upon request.
COPYRIGHT 1985 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Young, Anne McDougall
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Jul 1, 1985
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