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The recent recession lasted from December 2007 to June 2009 and had different consequences for various demographic groups, with higher job losses affecting African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, workers with lower levels of education, and younger workers. The chart compares the labor market experiences of two groups of young adults when they were in their mid-20s. The group born in 1980–1981 turned 24 or 25 years old by December 2005, which was 2 years before the start of the recent recession. The group born in 1982–1983 turned 24 or 25 by December 2007, the first month of the recession.
Even though they are close in age, the two birth groups had very different employment experiences at the same stage of their lives. In the 1980–1981 birth group, 87 percent of men and 77 percent of women were employed in June 2007. By contrast, in the 1982–1983 birth group, 80 percent of men and less than 74 percent of women were employed in June 2009, the end of the recession.
Men and women in every racial and ethnic group of the 1982–1983 birth group experienced lower employment rates at the end of the recession than did men and women in the 1980–1981 birth group at the same stage of their lives 2 years earlier.
Men in the 1982–1983 birth group with a high school diploma but no college were 11 percentage points less likely to be employed in June 2009 than were men in the 1980–1981 group to be employed 2 years earlier (June 2007). Among men without a high school diploma, those in the 1982–1983 birth group were 14 percentage points less likely to be employed in June 2009 than were their older counterparts 2 years earlier. The differences in employment rates between the two birth groups were not as large for men with some college or a degree or women in any of the educational attainment categories.
These data are from the National Longitudinal Surveys program. To learn more, see “Young adult employment during the recent recession,” (PDF) by Donna S. Rothstein.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Young adult employment during the recent recession at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2012/ted_20120601.htm (visited March 22, 2023).