Study Shows Race, Place and Education Matter in Success of Young Adults

Race, place and education all play a role in whether young adults find employment, according to a report released recently by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. The report, “Employment and disconnection among teens and young adults: The role of place, race, and education,” analyzes the employment and unemployment rates of teens, young adults, and prime-age workers in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States and provides data on disconnected youth.

The report found that young adults with lower levels of education are still reeling from the effects of the recession and continue to struggle in the labor market.

Nationally, an estimated 3 million young people aged 16-24 (7.6 percent) are disconnected, meaning they are neither working nor in school. The majority of these young people are aged 20-24, suggesting that the problem becomes more acute after young people are of an age to have graduated high school, according to the report.

Other key findings include:

  • Race plays an important role. Rates of disconnection vary widely by metropolitan area, and in some places, young African Americans and Latinos are up to 3-to-6 times more likely to be disconnected than young whites.
  • Education, or lack thereof, is even more important. According to the report, disparities by educational attainment are larger than disparities by race. People without post-secondary credentials do much worse in the labor market than those with higher levels of education.
  • Place is also impacts success. Employment and unemployment rates vary substantially by place; many of the best-performing metro areas are in the Midwest, West, or regions with highly educated residents, including state capitals and university towns, according to the report.

Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC, has spent 18 months immersed in the issue in Little Rock, Ark., developing the Little Rock Youth Master Plan, which will guide the city and its community partners on how to provide programs for at-risk youth and appropriately fund those programs. We know there is a need for additional jobs for youth, but there is also a need for a focus on career awareness and preparation, including mentorships, apprenticeships, inventories for skills, and assessments, to help youth understand how to go to college and/or begin a career.

When implemented, the Little Rock Youth Master Plan will have an intentional focus on workforce development, build on existing partnerships with the business community, and increase opportunities for youth to gain valuable experience and skills so that youth are prepared for work and able to lead thriving, sustainable lives.

ACS can help communities develop a strategy to engage partners, and in particular businesses to increase opportunities for youth.

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