extended survey each March, the Annual Demographic Survey or "March Supplement," collects other information about work experience during the previous calendar year, including earnings, number of weeks worked, average hours worked per week, occupation and industry classifications, and demographic information. The CPS Base Monthly Surveys for 1993 to 1996 indicate that about one-third of 16-and 17-year-olds are employed at any given time during the year. Data from the decennial census, which also collects information on employment, found similar results: About one-third of U.S. 16-and 17-year-olds were employed in the spring of 1990.

In 1996, for the first time, young women were more likely to be employed than young men: 35.7 percent for 16-and 17-year-old females; 33.3 percent for 16-and 17-year-old males. As with adults, there was a marked contrast in employment by race: Only 18.8 percent of young African Americans were employed, compared with 38.6 percent of white youths (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1997). Likelihood of employment increased with age, ranging from 17.5 percent for 15-year-olds to 51.9 percent for 17-year-olds.4

There are advantages to relying on official statistics because they are regularly collected over a long period of time on a representative sample of the population. For information about children and adolescents' work experience, however, using the Current Population Survey has drawbacks. The Department of Labor's definition of the labor force automatically excludes people under the age of 16. The CPS data exclude those under the age of 15—youngsters who, under child labor laws, are allowed to work as news carriers, on family farms, in other family businesses, and in certain other jobs.

Even though data are collected on 15-year-olds, those data are not used in official BLS estimates, nor are they included in published tables. Furthermore, in all but the most detailed published tables, 5 data for 16-and 17-year-olds are aggregated with those for older age


This finding is based on committee analysis of data from the 1995 CPS March Supplement.


It is possible to purchase CPS Monthly Survey data tapes to analyze the data on 15-, 16-, and 17-year-olds. The U.S. General Accounting Office (1991) did such an analysis of 1988 data and found that 28 percent of 15-year olds and 51 percent of 16-and 17-year-olds were employed at some time during 1988. In addition, data from the CPS Monthly Survey and the CPS March Supplement are available on the World Wide Web for analysis (http://ferret.bls.census.gov).

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