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Youth employment and the health and safety issues of young workers in the U.S. and Canada: an overview.

Castillo D; Lewko J
Health and safety of young workers: proceedings of a U.S. and Canadian series of symposia. Runyan CW, Lewko J, Rauscher K, Castillo D, Brandspigel S, eds. Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2013-144, 2013 May; :4-25
There are a variety of definitions and age ranges for the term "young workers." For the purposes of the U.S. portion of this paper, young workers are defined as those less than 18 years of age. This definition reflects the ages at which most youth are engaged with the public educational system in the U.S. This definition also reflects the age at which U.S. child labor laws govern the types of permissible and prohibited employment for youth. With the exception of information on child labor laws, the information presented in this portion of the paper is broadly, but not exactly comparable, to the expanded age range up to 24 years of age (another common definition for young workers, including among many papers in this Proceedings.) For example, workers in their early 20s in the U.S. differ from adolescents in the amount of time they work and reasons for working, though the types of workplaces and jobs are similar, as are patterns of injury. Similar to most adults, youth in the U.S. work to earn money. Both youth and their parents also recognize the positive role of work in building character, gaining job skills and as a step towards independence. While a primary motivator for work for youth and adults is money, how youth spend their money differs from adults, and is important for understanding the social context in which youth work in the U.S. Previous surveys of high school seniors, those students who are in their last year of public education in the U.S. and who are generally about 17 years of age, have demonstrated that working youth use their earnings primarily for personal items and car expense. For example, in 2001, 60% of working high school seniors reported that they spent at least half of their earnings on personal items and 27% reported spending at least half of their earnings on car expenses. Findings from this survey demonstrate that relatively small proportions of U.S. youth are contributing most of their earnings to family expenses, or towards saving for a college or trade education. There are differences by sociodemographic characteristics, however. For example, a higher proportion of black youth contributed at least half of their earnings to family expenses compared to all youth on average.
Humans; Adolescents; Age-groups; Workers; Hazards; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Work-capacity; Work-capability; Work-environment; Training; Sociological-factors; Education; Psychology; Surveillance-programs; Men; Women; Injuries
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Runyan CW; Lewko J; Rauscher K; Castillo D; Brandspigel S
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Health and safety of young workers: proceedings of a U.S. and Canadian series of symposia
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division