MDRC in the News

America’s Youngest Working Generation Could Become an Economic Powerhouse



The U.S. would earn $55 billion more in taxes if one particular generation worked.

If the 4.6 million members of Generation Z — those born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s — who aren’t working or in school joined the workforce, they’d each generate $11,900 per year in federal tax revenue, according to a study released Tuesday by Measure of America, a nonprofit initiative of the Social Science Research Council in Brooklyn, N.Y. The U.S. economy would see more in taxes, as well as spend less in public benefits, according to the report…..

…..Being a disconnected youth is not uncommon. More than 12% of young people between 16 and 24 years old are not working or in school, according to MDRC, a nonprofit economic research organization based in New York City and Oakland, Calif. and formerly known as Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation. “People think of disconnected youth as a cost to society, but a better way to think of them is as an untapped resource,” said Kristen Lewis, director of Measure of America. “These are young people who in time can be paying taxes and buying houses”…..

…..Some cities have launched initiatives to encourage these young adults to work. New York City implemented the Young Adult Internship Program, now called “Intern & Earn,” for people 16 to 24 years old who are not enrolled in school, not employed and don’t hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Between July 2013 and March 2014, nearly 2,700 young adults were assigned to the program, and 86% completed it during that time frame, according to a 2017 MDRC analysis.

The New York City teenagers were also more likely than others to work in the year after their assignment compared to a control group that did not receive these benefits, and were earning higher wages than the control group. Eventually, the employment rate for the group of participants and the control group converged, but former interns continued to see higher earnings than their counterparts, suggesting they had better-paying jobs, the analysis found.

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