Hiring talented young people for junior and entry-level positions is a top priority for many business owners, but recent data suggests that they're getting harder to find. The reason? Some Millennials are actually becoming less interested in joining the workforce.

That's right: Despite a string of encouraging employment reports, labor market participation among teenagers and young adults has declined in recent years compared with the late 1990s, according to a report from Stanford University released last month. The overall participation of teenagers fell from 46 percent between 1998 and 1999 to 33 percent between 2011 and 2013.

Surprisingly, teenagers and young adults from wealthy families accounted for the steepest decline in participation rates, Stanford economics professor Robert Hall said during testimony before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee last month.

The overall pronounced decline in participation of teenagers...is concentrated in households in the upper half of the income distribution. Teenagers living in the 25 percent of households with the highest incomes had a 16 percentage-point decline in participation, compared to a 5 percentage-point decline for teenagers in the lowest quartile.

One possible explanation for the decline is that Millennials and employers are caught in something of a Catch-22 when it comes to long-term employment. Millennials disengage because they don't see a future with their current employer, while businesses are reluctant to invest in young employees who may not stick around in their jobs, according to leadership training firm Virtuali.

The company's infographic below--which admittedly plugs its own leadership development program "Go!"--explains how Millennials think about career opportunities and what employers can do to increase engagement. 

Published on: Feb 12, 2015