Collapsing youth labor market and stagnant wages for young workers signify need for comprehensive youth policy, Georgetown University report says
The gap between the youth employment rate and the prime-age employment rate has increased by 9 percentage points since 2000
Washington, DC, December 07, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – The COVID-19-related recession has highlighted the lingering vulnerabilities of young people in the workforce following a prolonged series of particularly severe economic downturns, according to a new report from Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce (CEW). Youth policy: how can we smooth the rocky path to adulthood? examines the fragmented and inadequate US approach to youth policy in the context of the economic pressures facing youth and young adults today.
In the short term, young workers benefit from strong demand for labor as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 recession. Over the past 20 years, however, young people have faced one of the most difficult economic times on record for workers trying to launch their careers. Since 2000, the economy has been hit by three major recessions, with particularly damaging effects on millennials. Youth and young adults have faced particularly high unemployment rates amid the bursting of the dot-com bubble , the Great Recession and the COVID-19 recession. At the end of 2019, young people (aged 16 to 21) were already 11 percentage points less likely to have a job than in 2000, compared to a 1 percentage point difference for adults in the strength of age (aged 25 to 54). During the pandemic, the youth employment rate fell a further 6 percentage points. While the youth employment rate has since recovered significantly, the gap between the youth employment rate and the prime-age employment rate remains 9 percentage points larger than it was not 20 years ago.
The journey from youth dependence to adult economic independence is taking longer than in the past. Most young adults had good jobs in their mid-twenties; today, it takes most people until their early 30s to find a good job. This is because young people need more education and work experience to be successful in the workforce, and education and experience are more difficult to acquire.
Part of the decline in youth employment rates can be attributed to an increase in the proportion of young people enrolled in school or college. However, the share of young people who are ‘disconnected’ – neither working nor enrolled in school – has remained in double digits since 2000. The inequalities faced by certain racial and ethnic groups make some young people more vulnerable to disconnection from education. school, work, or both. . Since 2000, black youth have consistently had unemployment rates double those of white and Asian youth, and Latino youth also have unemployment rates that are consistently higher than those of white youth.
Youth policy in the United States is a vast patchwork of programs, initiatives and funding sources. It is fragmented into several institutional silos, including K-12 education; post-secondary education; federal, state and local government entities; and private industry. While there are programs that focus on the intersection of education and work, they are not enough to bridge the gaps between the silos.
“Youth policy today fails to guide young people as they navigate different silos on the path to economic independence,” said Anthony Carnevale, lead author of the report and director of the ‘HAVE. “We need a transparent and modernized strategy for reforming youth policy, centered on an all-one-system approach. “
A modernized conception of youth policy would allow young adults to obtain both post-secondary education and quality work experience to support their successful transition to good jobs. In an all-one-system approach, preschools, elementary and secondary schools, community colleges, four-year universities, employers and governments would all follow an integrated manual, helping to facilitate the progress of young people in kindergarten. in grade 12 in college. and the work. The Build Back Better Act currently under consideration in Congress would be a first step towards comprehensive reform.
While all students should benefit from systemic reforms, the most vulnerable students would benefit the most from a comprehensive approach to youth policy. In particular, first generation students, low-income students, young people placed in the foster care system and young people experiencing homelessness or who have been involved in the juvenile justice system would benefit from additional support for move from adolescence to adulthood.
“The patchwork approach to youth policy allows too many vulnerable young people to slip through the seams,” said Artem Gulish, IA senior policy strategist and co-author of the report. “The experience of millennials is a testament to the failures of our fragmented system. Millennials are at serious risk of becoming the first generation in recent history to be worse off financially than their parents, and we need system-wide change to ensure future generations have better ones. perspectives.
Over the past 50 years, structural changes in the economy have resulted in the growth of professional and technical occupations. Jobs in these occupations show a greater demand for skills such as teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving that are typically associated with higher levels of formal education. In the 1980s, three in four jobs required a high school diploma or less, while today two in three jobs require at least some post-secondary education or training.
Higher levels of education have been the key to success in the labor market for young adults (ages 22-27). Young adults with a university and vocational degree have a higher employment-to-population ratio than young adults with a similar level of education in 2000. All other groups of young adults now have employment rates below. those of young adults with a similar level of education more than 20 years ago.
A higher demand for better educated and more experienced workers has translated into a higher demand for older workers and a lower demand for younger workers. As a result, the earnings of young workers (aged 22 to 27) have barely improved since 1980, while the earnings of older workers (aged 55 and over) have increased by 35%.
Other key findings:
The share of young people attending school or college increased from 59% in 2000 to 68% in 2012, and has remained above 65% since then.
The share of disconnected young people, neither working nor in school, increased during the COVID-19 slowdown, reaching 16% in March 2021 before falling back to 14% in June 2021.
Since the 1970s, youth employment and vocational training policy has become more decentralized, with programs increasingly administered at state and local levels.
To view the post, visit cew.georgetown.edu/youthpolicy.
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) is an independent, not-for-profit research and policy institute that studies the links between individual goals, education and training programs, and career paths. CEW is affiliated with Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy. For more information, visit cew.georgetown.edu. Follow CEW on Twitter @GeorgetownCEW, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Medium.
At the time of writing this report, co-authors Artem Gulish and Kathryn Peltier Campbell received funding from the Institute for Higher Education Policy for work carried out on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
CONTACT: Emma Wenzinger Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce 202-687-7547 [email protected]