Employment Among Young People at Lowest Level Since World War II

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Number of Working Youth in Georgia Dwindled by Half during Past Decade

Georgia has the third-lowest rate of teen employment in the nation.

Only 19 percent of youths ages 16 to 19 are employed, compared to the national average of 26 percent.

Only 55 percent of young adults ages 20 to 24 are employed, also the third-worst rate in the nation.

More than 200,000 Georgia teens and young adults are not in school and not working. They are failing to gain the skills employers require in the 21st century. According to a new KIDS COUNT report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, this lack of training and experience is likely to send young people veering down a path to chronic underemployment as adults.

Lack of education, opportunity, and connection to school or work has long-term implications for disconnected youth. The report, Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity, warns that they may become adults with insufficient financial prospects, unable to achieve financial stability.

“Here in Georgia we have the third-lowest rate of teen employment in the nation,” said Georgia Family Connection Partnership Executive Director Gaye Morris Smith. “Only 19 percent of our youth ages 16 to 19 are employed, compared to the national average of 26 percent, and 55 percent of our young adults ages 20 to 24 are employed. That’s the third-worst rate in the nation.”

Disconnected youth—as they are often described—present a significant cost to taxpayers. Many rely on government programs for additional support, and there’s a greater likelihood that these young people will be incarcerated. In addition, the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey shows more than 20 percent of these young people have children of their own, which means their inability to find work and build careers can perpetuate an intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Young people today face unprecedented competition with older workers for scarce entry-level jobs in a sluggish economy. Disconnected youth also lack the higher skill set required for the higher paying jobs that are available. They often don’t graduate from high school on time and are unprepared for college. Furthermore, many must contend with barriers beyond their control, such as growing up in poverty, having few working adults as role models, and attending low-performing schools.

That’s not to say that Georgia isn’t working to create opportunities and paths to success for its young people. Education and business partners in Georgia have already teamed up at the state, regional, and local levels to develop strategies to address youth unemployment. The Technical College System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Education have policies and programs in place to better support youth transition from education to the workforce. Dual enrollment programs and career-focused educational pathways are helping to improve youth educational attainment and better prepare youth for employment.

Moultrie Technical College and Tift County High School, for example, have a dual enrollment Mechatronics program—a new approach to product design and development that merges the principles of electrical, mechanical, computer and industrial engineering. This is the first high-school Mechatronics program in Georgia. Students graduate with a high-school diploma and a certificate from Moultrie Tech and are prepared to enter the work force with skills and credentials that earn them livable income.

“Students learn skills in our programs that translate from the classroom to the workplace,” said Dr. Shawn Utley, vice president for Economic Development at Moultrie Technical College. “We have a 99.2 percent job placement rate, and we’ve historically been above 90 percent. This is a great partnership because neither school had to erect a new building or hire significant additional staff. We used what was already in place and built on that.”

Creating opportunities for disconnected youth to succeed not only creates more stable individuals and families, but also builds a stronger workforce and tax base.

The need to provide multiple, flexible pathways to success for disconnected young people, and to re-engage high-school dropouts is essential. The report advocates creating opportunities for youth in school or other public systems that allow them to gain early job experience through community service, internships, summer and part-time work, and other avenues.

The report also calls for bringing together policymakers, businesses, public and private funders, and communities to align resources that support youth, explore new ways to create jobs through social enterprises, initiate employer-sponsored earn-and-learn programs, and develop a national youth employment strategy.

“New industry will not move into our state without access to a trained and experienced workforce,” said Smith. ‘This is a problem with major implications for Georgia’s economy, and it calls for a collaborative solution. Public and private sectors must join forces with educators to create opportunities that put young workers’ talents, skills, and creativity to work in helping create a stable workforce so Georgia can maintain and strengthen our economic competiveness.”

Read Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity.

The report includes the latest youth employment data for every state, the District of Columbia and the nation. Additional information on disconnected youth and young adults is available in the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

For interactive statewide data, visit Georgia KIDS COUNT at gafcp.org/kidscount.

Contact:
Naja Williamson
Georgia KIDS COUNT coordinator
404-527-7394 (x133)
[email protected]

Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director
404-527-7394 (x114)
[email protected]

Follow us on Twitter: @gafcpnews


Georgia Family Connection Partnership
(GaFCP) is a public/private partnership created by the State of Georgia and funders from the private sector to assist communities in addressing the serious challenges facing children and families. GaFCP also serves as a resource to state agencies across Georgia that work to improve the conditions of children and families. Georgia KIDS COUNT provides policymakers and citizens with current data they need to make informed decisions regarding priorities, services, and resources that impact Georgia’s children, youth, families, and communities. Georgia KIDS COUNT is funded, in part, through a grant from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States.

Georgia KIDS COUNT provides policymakers and citizens with current data they need to make informed decisions regarding priorities, services, and resources that impact Georgia’s children, youth, families, and communities. Georgia KIDS COUNT is funded, in part, through a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States.


Georgia KIDS COUNT is supported in part through funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
We thank the Foundation for its support.

“This project was supported in part by the Governor’s Office for Children and Families through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Community Based Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CFDA 93.590). Points of view or opinions stated in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Community Based Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CFDA 93.590).”