Topic Resources

How to improve young adult employment — that is the question? We are exploring the issue of young adult unemployment for CFN’s Round 1 survey and in-person forums. The phrase “young adult” is defined as individuals between the ages of 16 and 24. Labor statistics breakdown this age group into full-time school, part-time school, non-student, and disconnected (neither looking for work or in school). What we have found is that the trend lines for young adult employment have been on a steady decline since the 1980′s. It’s a valuable question to ask, “why?” and what are the different factors that have impacted these trends.

Here is some of the research information and different perspectives on the issue that we have found during Round 1:

1.  “Work experiences—part-time for students, and fulltime for those not attending school—reinforce key behaviors… essential to success.  These behaviors include planning for the future and setting goals, identifying resources, seeking information and feedback, and evaluating what has worked and what has not.” “Wanted: Work Experience for Young Adults.”  A Report to the Washington Legislature, Dec 2010.  WA Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board. http://www.wtb.wa.gov/Documents/WantedWorkExperienceforYoungAdults.pdf

2.    Washington’s Young Adult Employment Has Been Trending Downward.  *

3.  At only 43%, Washington State has one of the nation’s lowest employment rates for young adults. The best employment rate is in North Dakota at 64%, while the worst rate is in Georgia at 39%.  *

4.    Washington’s Young Adult Employment Is Now the 9th Lowest In the Nation.*

5.  Most Young Adults Work In Leisure & Hospitality and Retail Trade. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Schools Out” Report.  July, 2011. http://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2011/schools_out/

6.  Washington’s Minimum Wage Has Been Steadily Rising and is Now the Highest in the Nation (at $9.04/ Hr).

Department of Labor.   http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/stateMinWageHis.htm

7.  Construction & Manufacturing Industries Need Significant Help To Become Major Employers of Young Adults. 

Construction industry alone lost 66,900 jobs (down from 208,200 to 141,300 jobs between 2008 and 2010).  That’s 38% of 174,600 WA jobs lost!  Manufacturing industry lost 35,400 jobs (down from 293,300 to 257,900 between 2008 and 2010).   That’s 20% of all WA jobs lost.

“State of Working in WA.”  2011. http://www.stateofworkingwa.org/2011/swwa/docs/state-of-working-wa-2011.pdf

* Data Source: http://www.bls.gov.   Methodology:  To calculate % Employed, divide Civilian Non-Institutional Population by # Employed.  To calculate Young Adults, add the numbers for 16-19 and 20-24 year olds.  To calculate Minority, subtract White from Total.

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