Youth Employment Research

Youth Employment Research

Work matters. Research shows that early employment translates to higher earnings, greater access to health care and stronger educational attainment, but teens are losing ground. Teen employment rates have declined dramatically and employers report that lack of soft-skills are to blame.

Understanding the Problem

Employment rates among teens have dropped nearly 50% since the late 1990s. More than half of today’s high school students have no work experience, and some groups suffer even lower employment rates. For example, in 2013, white male teens from high income families were five times more likely to be employed than African American male teens from low-income families.

Research shows that young people who work part time in high school have 22% greater annual earnings in their career. They are also more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree, work in higher-level jobs, have access to healthcare and retirement plans. With so many young people losing ground, Commonwealth Corporation and Drexel University conducted a study to better understand the problem.

Download the Full Study

The Right Skills & the Opportunity for Success

Employers are reluctant to hire teens because of inferior work behaviors, but schools and community-based organizations can help reverse the downward trend in teen employment by helping young people develop core soft skills that form a foundation for success in work, school and life. Created by workforce development and education partners, Signal Success is a comprehensive curriculum that provides systematic tools and strategies to build aptitude in the essential skills like communication, dependability, initiative and collaboration alongside meaningful opportunities for future planning.

Learn more about the curriculum
Understand the impact