Newswise — According to a new report from researchers at Northeastern University, the summer of 2004 turned-out to be the bleakest ever over the past 57 years for millions of this nation's teenage job-hunters.

Earlier this year, Northeastern economist Andrew Sum of the Center for Labor Market Studies projected a generally grim summer job market for the nation's 16-19 year olds, with the teen employment rate projected to be only slightly above last year's historically low employment rate of 41.7% (not seasonally adjusted). Using the latest national employment data for teens for the entire summer of 2004 (June " August), the Center has produced a new research report assessing key labor market developments for teens during the summer of 2004. The findings reveal that the overall teen employment rate reached a new historical low this past summer and that teens from low income families, central cities, and Black youth had the greatest difficulty in securing any type of employment.

During the past summer (June-August), slightly under 42 percent of all of the nation's teens were employed during a typical month. This employment rate tied with the summer of 2003 for the lowest employment rate for teens over the past 57 years for which national employment data are available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 2004 summer employment rate for teens was ten percentage points below its value in the summer of 2000 and more than 15 percentage points below its value in 1989 near the peak of the labor market boom of the 1980s.

"If the 2000 summer employment rate for teens had prevailed during the past summer, another 1.6-1.7 million more teens would have been at work,' said Sum, lead author of the report. "The low employment rate during the past summer was not a result of a lack of interest in work by teens, but rather because of an inability of teens to find work when they did look and the perception by many teens that no work was available. There were three million teens who were unemployed, wanting a job but not actively looking, and underemployed during the past summer."

The employment rates of teens during the past summer were nearly identical for men and women; however, there were substantial variations across race-ethnic, household income, and geographic subgroups of youth. Summer 2004 employment rates of the nation's teens ranged from a low of 24% among Black teens to nearly 33% for Hispanics and a high of 46% for Whites. The ability of teens to secure any type of employment also varied considerably by their household income. Only 27 of every 100 teens living in a household with an income under $20,000 worked during the past summer versus 47 of every 100 living in a household with an income between $40,000 and 60,000 and 54 of every 100 teens living in a family with an income over $100,000. "The combination of race, household income, and geographic location of the teen's residence had a very powerful influence on their employment rates," said Ishwar Khatiwada co-author of the report. "Only 22 of every 100 Black teens living in a low income family in a central city were employed during the past summer versus 31 of every 100 Black teens living in a central city family with an income between $40,000 and $60,000 and 63 of every 100 White teens living in a family outside of a metropolitan area with an income of $100,000 or more." In the report, the authors note that the extraordinary deterioration in the employment situation of the nation's teens has not been addressed by the Bush administration, the U.S. Congress, or either national political party. The authors also claim that neither Presidential campaign has provided any substantive discussion of the depressed labor market conditions facing the nation's teens and young adults (20-24 year olds) or offered any policy proposals to improve their short-term employment prospects.

"The Presidential debates should have provided a perfect forum for a discussion of these problems, but these debate formats failed to raise these issues," said Sum. "There are a variety of proven strategies for boosting the immediate year-round and summer employment prospects for the nation's teens, including public job creation programs, both year-round and summer, subsidized jobs for youth in the private sector, tax credits for the hiring of additional youth, and school-to-career and school-to-work transition services for in-school youth, especially economically disadvantaged youth and those living in high poverty urban and rural areas across the nation. An immediate bipartisan public policy response to these employment issues is needed."

Northeastern University, located in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, is a world leader in practice-oriented education and recognized for its expert faculty and first-rate academic and research facilities. Northeastern integrates challenging liberal arts and professional studies with the nation's largest cooperative education program. Through co-op, Northeastern undergraduates alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, giving them nearly two years of professional experience upon graduation. The majority of Northeastern graduates receive a job offer from a co-op employer. Cited for co-op excellence three years running by U.S. News & World Report, Northeastern has quickly moved up into the top half of the "Best National Universities" rankings—an impressive 30 spots in three years. In addition, Northeastern was named a top college in the northeast by the Princeton Review 2003/04. For more information, please visit