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America's Young Adults: Special Issue, 2014

Neither Enrolled in School Nor Working

Young adults neither enrolled in school nor working are at particular risk of limited future economic and social prospects because they are detached from core activities for this age group. Such detachment, particularly if it lasts for several years, hinders a young adult's opportunity to build a work history that contributes to future higher wages and employability.17 The ultimate consequences of disengagement from productive activity can be damaging for young adults themselves and for society at large.

Indicator Ed4.A: Percentage of young adults ages 20–24 who were neither enrolled in school nor working by educational attainment, 1990–2013
Percentage of young adults ages 20–24 who were neither enrolled in school nor working by educational attainment, 1990–2013

NOTE: The percentage for associate's degree in 1990 is not available. High school completion includes equivalency credentials, such as the General Educational Development (GED) credential.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, March Supplement and Annual Social and Economic Supplement.

Indicator Ed4.B: Percentage of young adults ages 18–24 who were neither enrolled in school nor working by gender, race and Hispanic origin, and age group, 2013
Percentage of young adults ages 18–24 who were neither enrolled in school nor working by gender, race and Hispanic origin, and age group, 2013

a Includes other racial and Hispanic origin groups not shown separately.

NOTE: In 2013, about 10.6 percent of the young adults who were neither enrolled in school nor working were married with their own children and 16.7 percent were unmarried with their own children. The revised 1997 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) standards for data on race and ethnicity were used to classify persons into racial groups. Data on race and Hispanic origin are collected separately. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement.

  • A higher percentage of young adults ages 20–24 was neither enrolled in school nor working in 2013 (19 percent) than in 1990 (17 percent). In addition, the percentage of young adults ages 20–24 neither enrolled in school nor working increased from 1990 to 2013 for those whose highest level of education was high school completion (from 21 to 31 percent), for those who had completed some college (from 6 to 9 percent), and for those with at least a bachelor's degree (from 5 to 9 percent).
  • In 2013, the percentage of 20- to 24-year-olds who were neither enrolled in school nor working varied by education level. This percentage was highest among those who had not completed high school (45 percent), followed by those who had completed high school only (31 percent); it was also higher for those with an associate's degree (13 percent) than for those who had completed some college and those with at least a bachelor's degree (both 9 percent).
  • In 2013, the percentage of young adults neither enrolled in school nor working was higher for young adults ages 20–24 (19 percent) than for young adults ages 18–19 (13 percent).
  • Among young adults ages 18–19, higher percentages of Black, non-Hispanic (17 percent) and Hispanic young adults (16 percent) than of White, non-Hispanic (11 percent) and Asian/Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic young adults (8 percent) were neither enrolled in school nor working.
  • Among young adults ages 20–24, the percentage of those neither enrolled in school nor working was higher for Black, non-Hispanic young adults (27 percent) than for Hispanic (23 percent) and White, non-Hispanic young adults (15 percent), and it was higher for Hispanic young adults than for White, non-Hispanic young adults. The percentage was lowest for Asian/Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic young adults (12 percent).
  • For both young adults ages 18–19 and 20–24, there were no measurable differences between males and females in the percentages of young adults neither enrolled in school nor working for males and females.

table icon YAED4.A HTML Table, table icon YAED4.B HTML Table

17 Fernandes, A., and Gabe, T. (2009). Disconnected youth: A look at 16- to 24-year-olds who are not working or in school (CRS Report No. R40535). Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40535.pdf.