John Winters

New Iowa State University research suggests young people between the ages of 16 and 24 have been hardest hit by job losses during the pandemic.

ISU economics professor John Winters said the analysis indicates 37.5% of those younger workers lost their jobs this spring.

“Young workers actually had the largest employment losses among any group,” Winters said. “Black workers, Hispanic workers had much larger employment losses than whites and then we also found differences by education, so less educated worker had larger losses and lower income workers had larger employment losses.”

The percentage of American teenagers in the workforce has been falling over the past two decades and Winters said there are a number of theories as to why that’s happening.

“But obviously the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly exacerbated that, ” Winters said. “The employment rates for teenagers in the 16-17, but if you also go up to 18-19 (year olds), employment rates for those young people have fallen dramatically.”

The research Winters and an ISU graduate student conducted also suggests many workers who’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic have stopped searching for work.

“It probably means that the official unemployment rates are actually understating the true magnitude of the pandemic on employment outcomes,” he said.

In a separate study, Winters and two ISU graduate students found a link between job losses and coronavirus cases — the higher the infection rate, the greater the percentages of layoffs in a metro area.