MDRC in the News

Out of School, Out of Work

Washington Monthly


Even before the pandemic, America’s young adults were in crisis.

In 2017, as many as 4.5 million young people—or 11.5 percent of young adults ages 16 to 24—were neither in school nor working, according to the nonprofit Measure of America. By the summer of 2020, the organization estimated, the ranks of these “disconnected” young adults had swelled to 6 million.

The pandemic has taken an outsized economic toll on young workers, who disproportionately hold jobs in hard-hit sectors such as retail, hospitality, and food service. Unemployment among 16-to-24-year-olds soared from 10 percent in March 2020 to 26 percent in April, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, with the highest rates of joblessness among Black and Latino youth….

…..In fairness, the mission of Job Corps is a difficult one to make good on.

“The labor market is not very hospitable to young people without high levels of post-secondary skills,” says Dan Bloom, senior vice president at MDRC, a nonpartisan policy research organization focused on social and education issues. “Put together with problems in the public schools, a harsh criminal justice [system], and a bunch of other contextual factors, and it’s very difficult to change those trajectories.”

Job Corps is taking on a group of young adults who are tough to reach successfully. Of the nearly 50,000 young people enrolled in Job Corps in 2018, 60 percent did not have a high school diploma or GED when they entered the program, 20 percent were receiving public assistance, and 5 percent were homeless, runaways, or in foster care. About 80 percent of Job Corps students were teens and younger adults, ages 16 to 20…..

Full Article