years in high school (Bachman and Schulenberg, 1992; Light, 1995; Steinberg and Cauffman, 1995).

Whether young people are employed or not may be less important than where they work and how much time they devote to work. Retail trades and services employ the vast majority of working 15-to 17-year-olds (51 percent and 26 percent, respectively). Agriculture—one of the three most dangerous industries in the country—is the next largest employer of this age group, employing 8 percent of them. Young people spend a significant amount of time each week working. In 1995, working 15-to 17-year-olds averaged about 18 hours of work in weeks that they worked (data from 1995 Current Population Survey).

Both cross-sectional and longitudinal data paint a general picture of the employment of adolescents in the United States. But that picture lacks many details. This chapter examines the information about the number of children and adolescents who work, who they are, where they work, and how much they work. The strengths and weaknesses of the data sources that provide this information and reasons for differences among the data sources are discussed.


Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor

Official estimates of employment (and unemployment) in the United States are derived from the Current Population Survey (CPS), which is conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The CPS is a monthly survey of about 50,000 households, scientifically selected to be representative of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States.3 Households are in the sample for 4 months, retired for 8 months, and then return for 4 more months. The first and fifth interviews are face-to-face interviews; the other interviews may be conducted by telephone. Labor-force information that includes employment status and hours worked during the previous week is collected in the Basic Monthly Survey for each household member aged 15 or older. In addition, an


Prior to 1996, about 60,000 households were surveyed; funding cuts resulted in the smaller survey.

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