Matt Yglesias directed me to a graph showing that teenage employment has bounced back to near pre-Covid levels:

This surprised me, as prime-age employment remains depressed at levels well below early 2020:

What explains the difference?  There are many potential explanations, but one possibility is that teenagers are less likely to be receiving generous unemployment benefits, as many of them were not working when the Covid recession hit last March, or had not worked long enough to qualify.  What are some other theories?

If I’m right, then prime age employment should bounce back after the extra $300/week benefits expire in early September.

PS.  It’s true that in an absolute sense the teenage employment ratio is quite low, but it was also low in 2019 when the economy was booming and jobs were plentiful.  Today, teenagers are less likely to choose to work than back in the 20th century, when teen participation rates were higher.  Many teens now participate in extensive extracurricular activities to boost their chances of getting into a good college.  (I worked in a canning factory when I was 17.)