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Utah Boasts One of Highest Teen Employment Rates in Country

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A new study from the Brookings Institution reveals that the employment situation for teens and young adults looks very good in the state of Utah. The report issued is titled “The Plummeting Labor Market Fortunes of Teens and Young Adults” and it was released on Friday.

In the report, three cities in Utah were named in the top 10 for employment rate in teens (16 to 19 years) and young adults (20 to 24 years), according to The Salt Lake Tribune. The study examined the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country.

The Ogden-Clearfield region had the highest employment rate in the country with 43.2 percent for the teen category. Fourth on the list was Salt Lake City, which boasts an employment rate of 39.9 percent. The Provo-Orem area came in at 10 on the list with a 35.3 percent rate.

The third-highest employment rate in the country for the young adult category went to Salt Lake City, with 74.6 percent. Eighth on the list was Ogden-Clearfield with 72.3 percent and Provo-Orem was 10th with 71.1 percent.

In 2000, the United States employment rate for teens was 46 percent. In 2011, that rate hit 26 percent, which is the lowest rate since World War II. For young adults, the rate dropped from 72 percent in 2000 to 61 percent in 2011.

Carrie Mayne, the chief economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services said that a reason why there is high employment rates for young adults and teens is that the overall employment rate for the state is always high. Last week, Governor Gary Herbert announced that Utah’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent, which is the lowest in five years.

“This is something you can’t prove in the data, but because Utah has always been a youthful population and a high [employment] rate, it’s an institutional norm to have teenagers employed in our workforce,” Mayne said. “To have a history of such high participation structures our economy in such a way that our doors are always open to teenagers in the workforce. The economic activity builds upon itself. A little economic expansion in one place will affect another place.”

The co-author of the study, Martha Ross, said, “What that says is it’s important to get a foothold in the labor market because work experience begets work.”

Despite the economy of the country continuing its turnaround, teens are still struggling to find jobs.

“If young people aren’t getting those credentials, they are locked out of the jobs,” Ross said. “It is worrisome. There is a concern that there is going to be a scarring effect on their future earnings. It’s going to be hard for them to catch up. That being said, it’s not destiny.”

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Authored by: Jim Vassallo