The Great Recession and recent employment trends among secondary students in the United States

Jeremy Staff, Monica Kirkpatrick Johnson, Megan E. Patrick, John E. Schulenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The Great Recession had substantial effects on the labor market in the United States, as elsewhere. To what extent did secondary students' employment decline during this time? Which students are leaving the labor market? Are reductions in employment concentrated in particular jobs? To answer these questions, we use data from the Monitoring the Future study, an ongoing study of secondary students in the United States. More specifically, we examine recent trends in teenage employment using 6 cohorts each of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders (from 2006 to 2011, spanning before, during and after the Great Recession). Results show a gradual decline in school year employment since 2006, including the years after the official end of the recession. Employment during the school year is especially low among 8th and 10th graders, Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black youth, and students from disadvantaged backgrounds (based upon parental education), though the recent drop in work has varied little by population subgroups. The decline in employment is, however, concentrated among the oldest students, and working intensely (over 20 hours per week) has dropped more than working moderate hours. Students are more likely to babysit and do lawn work, and less likely to hold jobs in office, clerical, and sales positions than in years past. These patterns and recent shifts in job type suggest some degree of job replacement by older workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-188
Number of pages16
JournalLongitudinal and Life Course Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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