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Barriers to Entry: The Increasing Challenges Faced by Young Adults in the New York City Labor Market

JobsFirstNYC commissioned and contributed to this study of how young adults aged 18 to 24 are faring in the New York City labor market. It provides an analysis of current levels and recent trends in the demand for young adult labor, as distinguished by the employment and wage patterns of the jobs available to young people, and of the key characteristics of the supply of young adult labor, as represented by the demographics of 18- to 24-year-olds.  Throughout the analysis, we place particular emphasis on the population of 18- to 24-year-olds who are out of school and out of work (OSOW).

The report also attempts to provide, through a discussion of key labor market concepts and measurements, insight into how to best understand levels and trends related to young adult employment.  Key findings include:

  • Young adults as a whole in New York City are working less but receiving more schooling; yet OSOW rates remain high.
  • More competition from older workers is making it harder for young workers to find jobs.
  • Less educated young workers are finding it harder to progress out of the lowest-paying jobs.
  • The recession has led to significant increases in the portion of OSOW young people who are unemployed or discouraged workers, as jobs have become even scarcer for young people.
  • Certain communities show alarmingly high concentrations of OSOW youth; 18 of the city’s 55 neighborhoods are home to over half of the city’s OSOW young adults.
  • A significant portion of the OSOW population faces major barriers to obtaining and succeeding in employment.

The purpose of this study is to raise questions through an in-depth analysis of labor market data and, based on our findings, offer a set of implications for policymakers concerned with reducing the numbers of OSOW young adults. We hope that it can serve as a vehicle for discussions about how JobsFirstNYC’s partners in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors can make use of this data to advance their work.

This report was conceived of, contributed to, and commissioned by JobsFirstNYC, and was authored by James Parrott of Fiscal Policy Institute and Lazar Treschan of Community Service Society.

Click here for an Executive Summary, or click the download button for the full report.

Download the Report

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