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Among youth between the ages of 16 and 19, about one in 12, as of 2014, were neither in school nor working, a proportion that has changed little over more than two decades.

Importance

The transition from youth into independent adulthood involves many challenges,[1] one of the most important of which is gaining secure employment.[2] While there are multiple pathways to success, the consequences of unemployment, under-employment, or not acquiring post-secondary education can be damaging and enduring. Males who are neither enrolled in school nor working are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior or illegal activities.[3] Females in this group are more likely to become dependent on welfare.[4] Young adults in the juvenile justice, foster care, and special education system are particularly vulnerable, since they tend to drop out of the workforce and school at an early age, leaving them ineligible for services meant to aid in the transition to adulthood.[5],[6] Even if these youth eventually do obtain jobs, their earnings tend to be low.[7] In short, youth neither enrolled in school nor working are on the sidelines of achieving economic self-sufficiency, and at risk for multiple additional poor outcomes.

Trends

87_fig1Between 1986 and 2014, the percentage of youth who were neither enrolled in school nor working has decreased slightly, from nine or ten percent between 1986 and 1996, to between seven and nine percent since then. In 2014, the proportion was eight percent. (Figure 1)

 

Differences by Gender

In 2014, there was no significant difference by gender in whether youth reported that they were neither in school nor working. This is a significant change from before welfare reform in 1996, when female youth were between two and three percentage points more likely to be neither in school nor working.  (Appendix 1)

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin [8]

87_fig2Both Hispanic and black youth are more likely than white or Asian youth to be neither enrolled in school nor working. In 2014, 10 percent, each, of Hispanic and black youth were neither enrolled in school nor working, compared with seven percent of white, and three percent of Asian or Pacific Islander youth. (Figure 2)

Differences by Age

87_fig3Older youth are more likely than younger youth to be neither working nor enrolled in school, and data for this age group are also more variable from year to year. In 2014, 12 percent of youth ages 18 to 19 were neither working nor enrolled in school, compared with four percent of youth ages 16 to 17. (Figure 3).

 

Differences by Citizenship

In 2014, youth who are not U. S. citizens are were more likely than U.S. born youth to be neither in school nor working (12 and eight percent, respectively). (Appendix 1)

State and Local Estimates

Estimates (using a different data source) for states and some cities, through 2013, are available at the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

International Estimates

For international estimates of youth and older youth, ages 15-19, 20-24, and 25-29 who are not in education and unemployed, see the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Education at a Glance 2014 report. (Table C5.2a)

National Goals

None.

What Works to Make Progress on This Indicator

Hadley, A., Mbwana,
K., and Hair, E. (2010). What works for older youth during the transition
to adulthood: Lessons from experimental evaluations of programs and
interventions
. {electronic version} Child Trends Fact Sheet.

Also, see Child Trends’ LINKS database (“Lifecourse Interventions to Nurture Kids Successfully”), for reviews of many rigorously evaluated programs, including the following which have been shown to be effective for this population:

Also see:

Bloom, D. and
Haskins, R. (2010). Helping high school dropouts improve their prospects.
The Future of Children: Policy Brief.

Related Indicators

Definition

This indicator measured the proportion of civilian, non-institutionalized youth, ages 16 to 19, who were neither enrolled in school nor employed in the week prior to the survey. The survey is conducted in March of each year.

Data Sources

Data for 2007-2014: Child Trends analysis of U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, March Supplement.

Data for 1986-2006: Wirt, J., Choy, S., Rooney, P., Provasnik, S., Sen, A., & Tobin, R. (2007). The Condition of Education [Electronic Version]. Table 19.1. Available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/2007064.pdf

Raw Data Source

Current Population Survey, March Supplement

http://www.bls.gov/cps/

 

Appendix 1 – Percentage of Youth, Ages 16 to 19, who are Neither Enrolled in School Nor Working: Selected Years, 1986-2014

1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1998 2000 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Total 9.8 9.5 9.1 10.0 9.3 7.3 7.5 8.4 8.8 7.2 8.0 7.6 7.5 7.7 8.8 8.9 7.8 7.8 8.6 7.9
Sex
Male 8.7 7.8 7.6 8.3 8.0 7.3 6.4 8.3 9.1 6.9 7.7 7.1 7.2 7.3 9.5 9.4 7.7 7.9 8.7 8.4
Female 11.0 11.3 10.5 11.7 10.6 7.3 8.7 8.5 8.5 7.4 8.3 8.1 7.7 8.0 8.2 8.4 7.9 7.6 8.4 7.4
Age
16 to 17 4.9 4.3 4.6 4.9 4.6 3.4 3.8 3.6 3.8 3.5 3.6 3.5 3.2 3.7 3.7 3.3 2.9 3.2 4.5 4.1
18 to 19 14.8 14.9 13.2 15.0 14.1 11.5 11.2 13.4 14.5 11.5 13.1 12.5 12.4 12.3 14.5 14.9 13.1 12.6 13.2 12.2
Race/Hispanic origin
White non-Hispanic 8.1 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.3 5.5 5.2 6.7 6.6 5.7 6.1 5.9 5.9 6.0 7.8 7.4 6.3 6.5 7.8 6.9
Black non-Hispanic1 14.4 15.0 12.1 16.9 13.7 9.5 12.2 12.9 14.2 9.3 11.3 11.5 10.0 10.5 9.6 11.3 10.7 9.3 10.5 9.6
Hispanic2 15.9 17.7 17.1 15.7 15.7 13.7 13.4 12.2 13.1 11.5 12.7 10.6 11.1 11.3 11.8 11.7 10.3 10.3 9.8 10.2
Asian/Pacific Islander3 6.0 3.1! 6.8 4.1! 5.6! 4.3! 3.1 5.2 4.1 4.3 5.2 2.3! 4.4 7.4 5.7 5.5 5.1 3.6
Other 10.1 21.8 12.3 14.1 8.5 12.4 18.6 19.3 11.3 8.3 9.3 8.7 11.5 12.2 9.3 9.4 9.3 9.5 9.4
Citizenship
U.S. born 8.8 6.8 7.1 8.1 8.4 6.8 7.7 7.2 7.2 7.5 8.7 8.6 7.5 7.6 8.7 7.7
Naturalized U.S. citizen 14.4! 9.6! 5.0! 4.5! 11.8! 5.4! 4.3! 8.3! 9.7! 3.5! 5.6! 7.8! 7.9! 4.3! 5.4! 6.3!
Non-U.S. citizen 15.6 14.5 12.5 13.0 14.0 12.0 12.7 13.5 10.4 10.7 11.9 14.9 12.2 12.1 8.3 11.8

“-” data not available.

! Interpret data with caution, estimate is based on fewer than 20 cases.

2 Black includes African American.

2Hispanic includes Latino, and may be of any race.

3Pacific Islander includes Native Hawaiian. Youth of Hispanic origin are excluded.

Sources: 1986-2006 data: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2007). The Condition of Education 2007 (NCES 2007-064) Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Table 19.1. 2007-2014 data: Child Trends analysis of U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey.

 

Endnotes


[1]
Ray,
B. & Settersten, R. (2010). What’s going on with young people today? The
long and twisting path to adulthood.  The Future of Children, 20(1), 19-41. Available at: http://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=72.

[2]
Brown, B., Moore, K. A., & Bzostek, S. (2003). A portrait of well-being
in early adulthood: A report to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
.
Washington, DC: Child Trends.

[3]Ednam, P., Holzer, H. J., & Offner, P. (2006). Improving financial
incentives for low-wage work. In Reconnecting disadvantaged young men
(pp. 11-36). Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.

[4]LeRoy, S. (2004). Welfare and poverty: Family matters [Electronic Version]. Fraser Forum. Retrieved from http://www.fraserinstitute.org/publicationdisplay.aspx?id=13181&terms=fraser+forum+2004

[5] Osgood,
D. W., Foster, E. M., & Courtney, M. E. (2010). Vulnerable populations and
the transition to adulthood. The Future
of Children
, 20(1), 19-41.  Available at: http://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=72

[6]
Foster,
E. M., & Gifford, E. (2005). The transition to adulthood for youth leaving
public systems: Challenges to policies and research. In On the frontier of
adulthood: Theory, research, and public policy
(pp. 501-533). Chicago, IL:
The University of Chicago Press.

[7] Danzinger,
S. and Ratner, D. (2010). Labor market outcomes and the transition to
adulthood. The Future of Children, 20 (no. 1), 133-158. . Princeton
University and The Brookings Institution. Retrieved from: www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/docs/20_01_FullJournal.pdf.

[8]Hispanics may be of any race. Estimates for white, black, and Asian/Pacific Islander youth do not include Hispanics in this report.

 

Suggested Citation:

Child Trends Databank. (2015). Youth neither enrolled in school nor working. Available at: https://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=youth-neither-enrolled-in-school-nor-working

 

Last updated: January 2015

 

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