Young People Put Off Joining Workforce in Virginia

Dec 27, 2017

Credit MBandman / Creative Commons

Young people are increasingly delaying their entry into the workforce, a trend that could have drastic consequences for what happens when they do finally get that first job.

In the last 15 years, the number of teenagers who have a job has fallen 24%. Among people aged 20 to 24, that number has dropped 11%. Kathryn Crespin at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia says it’s a long term trend dating back to the 1970s, driven in part by increasing school enrollment. 

“As the school enrollment rates have increased, labor force participation among teens and among youth ages 16 to 24 has declined.”

Credit Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia

And, she says, it’s not just that more people are enrolling in colleges and universities. It’s that they see a greater value in that education.

“It’s not only the increase in school enrollment but it’s probably also a change in how much value is placed on education and the role that education plays in bettering a young person’s life chances.”

Another potential explanation for the decline may be competition. In the last 15 years, labor force participation among people over the age of 65 has increased 60%.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.