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Youth Employment

The percentage of young adults ages 16 through 24 who are in the labor force.

Percentage of 16 – 24 Year Olds in Labor Force, by Calendar Year
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
MD 61.5% 63.4% 61.1% 59.9% 60.0% 59.2% 59.1% 58.3%
US 60.9% 61.5% 59.5% 57.3% 57.2% 57.8% 58.2% 58.4%

Data Source: American Community Survey, 1 Year Estimates

Story Behind the Data:

The number of 16 to 24 year olds in the labor force continues to decline.  However from 2014 to 2015, the number of “Disconnected Youth” who were neither engaged in education nor the workforce also declined from 93,074 to 85,600; this suggests that more youth became engaged or re-engaged in educational pursuits in lieu or in pursuit of better employment status.

Disaggregated by county, youth labor force participation is particularly low on the Lower Eastern Shore, Baltimore City, and parts of Western Maryland.  The Governor’s Workforce Investment Board has identified a number of factors contributing to this: a majority of new jobs created in Maryland requiring training beyond a high school diploma; a diminishing need for lower-skilled workers; growing difficulty entering the workforce at all due to limited work experience opportunities; and a sharp generational transition in the labor force.  Among those with no high school diploma, challenges are complex and varied, including substance abuse, parenthood, a lack of applicable skills, and history of incarceration.

Governor Hogan’s Administration is prioritizing reconnecting 16- to 24-year-olds to the workforce, announcing in 2015 that reducing the number of Disconnected Youth in Maryland would be a strategic goal.  To that end, the Children’s Cabinet produced a strategic plan outlining plans to address this population and specific subpopulations, including youth transitioning from foster care, youth involved with Juvenile Services, and youth with disabilities.  A significant change to Statewide activities for disconnected youth will be the implementation of the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which increases the percentage of youth funding that must be spent on out of school youth from 30% to 75% and increases the age of eligibility from 21 to 24.  This change will permit a greater number of older disconnected youth to be served through the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.

Other State activities geared toward creating pathways to the adult workforce will include examining policies and structural barriers to work, piloting apprenticeship and entrepreneurship programs for youth, and directing Children’s Cabinet funds to jurisdictions with strong plans to reconnect local youth to self-sustaining work.