New Report from Young Invincibles: New York State’s Top Strategy to Address Crisis-Level Youth Unemployment Doesn’t Match Employer or Young Worker Needs

December 19, 2016
Contact: Sarah Schultz,, 202-734-6510

New York — Today, the Northeast regional office of Young Invincibles, a young adult research and advocacy organization, has released a new report “Sounding the Alarm: New York’s Young Adult Unemployment Crisis & The Need for State-Based Reforms.” The report takes an in-depth look at the state’s single largest youth jobs investment–a tax credit through the Urban Youth Jobs Program –and demonstrates that the program does not meaningfully impact employer behavior. The report also outlines how to repurpose those resources to focus on evidence-based strategies that invest in developing the skills of young adults.

Youth unemployment among young New Yorkers ages 16-24 is at crisis-levels. Across the state, the unemployment rate for residents 35 years and older is four percent, compared to a 15 percent statewide average unemployment rate for young adults between the ages of 16 and 24.

Right now, the state’s largest investment to combat this issue is the Urban Youth Jobs Program (UYJP), which offers employers small dollar tax credits for hiring disadvantaged young adults. This tax credit currently represents a $50 million dollar annual appropriation from the state budget.

Through Young Invincibles’ original research on the program and extensive interviews with employers and key stakeholders, the report reveals that the UYJP is failing to provide young people, especially the most disadvantaged, with valuable training. Moreover, it shows that employers value having young adult workers who have skills over small dollar tax credits. Of the employers surveyed statewide, an overwhelming majority of 93 percent indicated that the kinds of tax credits provided through the UYJP do not impact their hiring decisions or retention.

“At a time when our economy demands some type of postsecondary credential to be a competitive and skilled worker, high young adult unemployment should be a major concern for state lawmakers” said Kevin Stump, author of the report and the Northeast Regional Director of Young Invincibles. “As a state, we need to stop continuing to spend precious development dollars on programs that are not shown to work, and should instead invest in strong evidence-based models. The future of our workforce and the financial security of young New Yorkers depend on it.”


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Encouraging jobs report for nation’s workers, including young adults

Echoing the national employment picture, young adults unemployment rate fell again last month, from 6.9 percent in July to 6.7 percent in August (seasonably adjusted). Young African Americans, a group with persistently high unemployment rates, also dropped nearly two points to 10.5 percent, although that estimate can not be adjusted for the seasonable employment changes, such as summer jobs.


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Apprenticeships Make Pathways from Employment Dead Ends

As Labor Day approaches, Young Invincibles wants to elevate the voices of the youngest generation in the workforce. Since the Great Recession, unemployment has steadily fallen, but young people have several hurdles to leap–18-24-year-olds still experience unemployment at the highest rates. For many graduates, this results from the experience paradox, lacking enough work experience coming out of college to start a fulfilling career. Young Invincibles’ apprenticeship research tracks the problem and provides its solutions: apprenticeships that help students gain experience, build skills, and receive the compensation unpaid internships don’t afford. Apprenticeships help untap new talent, and make our labor force even stronger, but too few program slots exist and too many graduates lack knowledge about them.

This blog provides insight into apprenticeships and how the program can truly benefit young adults.

Many of my peers don’t want to go to college. That isn’t for a lack of interest; they simply don’t have the financial resources to finish  school, and they see the employment dead end ahead. Even if they pick up a job (or two) to afford tuition, room and board, all their textbooks, and maintain a high GPA, the chances of finding a good-paying job after graduation aren’t very high. They’ll hear the same mantra after each failed interview: “You don’t have enough experience.” Again, it isn’t for a lack of interest in their field of study. It’s because “experience” is usually gained through unpaid internships, and work without pay isn’t a luxury many of my peers can afford. That’s why I was excited to learn how Young Invincibles advocated for more pathways for students when I joined their Chicago team last year.

Young Invincible’s showed me that paid apprenticeships are a route young people can take to build experience in their career or craft while simultaneously attending school. Many students today don’t have the experience to immediately join the workforce, after high school or university; therefore, many end up being unemployed or in a low paying position. In fact, young people aged between 18 and 24 experience unemployment at double the rate of all ages nationally. Businesses that host these apprenticeship programs help students financially by paying for their school, and providing a minimum wage salary and skills through mentorship.

I interviewed a student apprentice from my high school, who showed me how his electrician program helped him become a better student with an improving work ethic and gave him the  determination to improve his future. Another apprenticeship program in Wisconsin, offers two state programs: one targeting  high school students and one for high school graduates. From all the stories that were shared, the one that stood out to me the most touch on several familiar issues–struggling with poor grades, a lack of supportive outlets, which led to constant trouble in school.   The apprentice told us how no one believed in him until someone recommended him to become part of the apprentice program. After months of training, the program helped him get his act together. He was becoming more involved in school and in his grades.

This is something I would like to see in Chicago, particularly focused on young adults of color since many of  unemployed students come from minority communities . In Illinois alone, young African Americans and Hispanics almost double and triple the unemployment rate, respectively, of their white peers.  If we had more barrier-breaking programs like this, students would see better chances of finishing school, finding a job that leads to a financially secure career, ultimately building the next generation’s economic success. I urge Congress to support national programs through the Leveraging and Energizing America’ Apprenticeships Programs (LEAP) and the Promoting Apprenticeship for Credentials and Employment  (PACE) Acts, which incentivize employers and higher education institutions respectively to create apprenticeship programs.  School may be important, but not all students have the money and time to work for free and be a student. Apprenticeships will give them the opportunity to work, study, and build pathways to meet their career goals.

Maria Reyes is a youth leader and freshman at Loyola University.

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July Jobs Numbers Make Case for Improving Apprenticeship Programs

By Tom Allison

While the national unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent in July, the rate for young adults ages 18-to-34 rose slightly to 6.9 percent (seasonably adjusted) from 6.8 percent in June. Notably, sectors with high prevalence of apprenticeships saw significant job growth. Those sectors include:

  • The construction industry added 14,000 new jobs in July, including 9,400 specialty trade contracting jobs.
  • Nearly 50,000 new jobs were created in health care and social assistance, including 17,000 new hospital jobs and over 5,000 in social assistance.
  • There were also 11,000 new jobs in durable good manufacturing (all estimates seasonably adjusted).

Among the other unadjusted unemployment estimates, we see that young people of color continue to struggle to find a job despite the fact that our national unemployment rate has fallen by more than half since the depths of the recession:

  • Young Latinos: 7.5 percent
  • Young Asian or Pacific Islanders: 6.0 percent
  • Young African Americans 12.2 percent

jobs july


Last week’s jobs report coincides with Young Invincibles’ release of a new report on apprenticeships, debunking myths about the program and making suggestions for improving the system. The job growth in sectors key for apprenticeships reinforces our recommendations to improve our apprenticeship system. Conducted in the Chicagoland area where young people face some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, the study highlights three key misconceptions that Millennials hold about apprenticeships: that apprenticeship programs don’t currently exist in their communities, that apprenticeships don’t pay, and that participating in an apprenticeship means never receiving a college degree.

Based on these misconceptions about apprenticeships, as well as stated job preferences among Millennials, we advance six recommendations for building and branding youth-friendly apprenticeship programs.

When it comes to program structure, we recommend expanding pre-apprenticeship and job shadowing opportunities, creating more apprenticeships that provide the option to receive college credentials, and starting apprentices in cohorts. On the marketing side, we suggest being more explicit about wages, building innovative social media marketing strategies, and using near-peers as ambassadors.  Doing so will both build a broader base of Millennial support for these programs and ensure that those opportunities fit the needs of today’s young people.

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Learning To Work In Texas

Young workers make up a significant part of the Texas workforce, 39.7 percent of which is comprised of people between the ages of 16 to 34 years old. The state’s economic prospects rest on this generation’s ability to secure good jobs and to support themselves and their families. However, young people today are less likely to earn as much as previous generations, face skyrocketing higher education costs, and have dim prospects of social mobility as a result.

Recognizing this, Young Invincibles launched the Texas Jobs Tour in 2015, a statewide listening tour that reached over 250 young adults in Texas, learning from their experiences confronting a workforce that is increasingly challenging to break into and to excel in. Guided by these conversations, and existing data around youth unemployment challenges both across Texas and locally in Houston, we detail an agenda for Houston and state policymakers that would build upon current initiatives to open up jobs and economic opportunity. To improve job search skills and connections to the job market, the state of Texas must strengthen high school advising programs and improve access to information about career outcomes at Texas Colleges. Local and state policymakers must also expand early work experience opportunities for young Texans.

Please see our report, Learning to Work in Texas, for details on the policy agenda.

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Employment Trends of Young Adults over the Last Three Years



Tom Allison, 2013



June marked my third anniversary of working at Young Invincibles, and the 36th straight month of digging through the monthly jobs report to highlight young adults and underrepresented minorities’ trends in the workforce. Along the way we’ve explored entrenched inequities, particularly between African American and white young adults, put a price tag on the cost of youth unemployment, ranked the best jobs and industries for Millennial workers, and laid out a workforce development gameplan to improve young workers’ employment prospects. So we’ve learned a lot about young adults in the workforce, but I was curious about how their situation has changed in these last three years.

Generally, young adults, just like the workforce as a whole, have seen some significant improvements in the job market. In fact, there are 2.9 million more young adults working in 2016 than in 2013. Their unemployment rate has dropped 3.5 points to 6.8 percent from 10.4 percent.

June Jobs 16-1

The percent of young adults participating in the workforce (young adults with jobs or actively looking for one) has remained nearly the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as students not actively looking for work don’t count as part of the workforce.

June Jobs 16-2

The percentage of young people with jobs, also known as the employment-population ratio, has improved: nearly 70 percent of all young adults have some sort of employment, compared to 60 percent for the workforce at large.  While young people are finding jobs, it’s just as important  to understand the quality of jobs for young adults, and have that understanding drive our workforce policies.

June 16 -3

We know that all jobs aren’t created equal, and there’s plenty of evidence that young adults aren’t recovering fast enough to remain financially secure, and of course significant racial gaps persist and must be addressed. We also know that 99 percent of all jobs created since the Recession have gone to workers with a college education, so making college more accessible and affordable, and improving student success rates, is more important than ever.

So we’ve come a long way in the last three years, but have a lot more work to do.

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Tom Allison in the Young Invincibles’ Data Lab, 2016



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Young Invincibles: Damaging House Labor-H Bill Passes Appropriations Committee


Thursday, July 14, 2016

CONTACT: Nina Smith, nina.smith@younginvincibles.org301-717-9006

Damaging House Labor-H Bill Passes Appropriations Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Appropriations Committee today passed the FY 2017 Labor-H Appropriations bill via a nearly party-line vote, which would cut Pell Grants and restrict the Department of Education’s ability to protect students from predatory education providers. It would completely eliminate funding for apprenticeships, child care for student parents, and health care access for millions of young adults.

Rory O’Sullivan, deputy director of Young Invincibles stated the following:

“The House Labor-H appropriations bill passed out of committee today ignores the barriers to opportunity facing millions of young people across the country. Slashing funding for education and child care could prevent young adults from establishing lasting careers, caring for their families, and boosting their earning potential with a college degree. At a time when our generation could become the first in American history worse off than our parents, this bill would put economic security further out of reach for millions.

The cuts in this bill are expansive.  Pell Grants would lose $1.3 billion, limiting access to college for eight million students seeking a postsecondary credential. The bill would zero-out funding for on-campus childcare essential for young parents seeking a degree – something that has enjoyed longstanding bipartisan support. It would also expose vulnerable students to deceptive, high-debt education providers with an outright repeal of the Gainful Employment rule.

Even as youth unemployment remains 40 percent above the national average, this bill eliminates already meager funding to support businesses hoping to establish and expand apprenticeship training programs that lead to well-paid jobs and productive employees. Finally, the bill would defund aspects of the ACA critical to ensuring health care access for millions of young people.

Students and working families count on these resources to make a better life for themselves and for their families. We commend Members of the Committee who stood up in support of smart investments that help Americans achieve economic security.  And we remain hopeful that Congress can find common ground that ensures access to a quality, affordable higher education, health care coverage for millions of young adults, and alternative pathways to essential workforce credentials in future spending agreements.”


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Young Invincibles Hails Unanimous Passage of Perkins CTE Bill out of House Committee


Thursday, July 7, 2016

CONTACT: Nina Smith,, 301-717-9006

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed out of committee HR 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, a bill designed to reauthorize the Perkins CTE program. The 37-0 vote advances the bill to the House floor. Perkins CTE allows states to fund robust career and technical education programs in high schools and community colleges, and enables students to get the training they need to prepare for future careers. Reauthorization of the program is an opportunity to advance reforms to help young Americans find work, as detailed in Young Invincibles’ Millennial Workforce Development Priorities Report.

“We celebrate bipartisan committee passage of a modern Perkins program that works better for young people. This bill is an important step toward creating a program that is responsive to the needs of employers and young workers alike,” said Reid Setzer, Young Invincibles’ Policy and Legislative Affairs Analyst. “Aligning Perkins with other federal workforce programs and improving the metrics used to evaluate success will strengthen the program long-term and help relieve high youth unemployment. We look forward to Congress continuing their work on improving aspects of Perkins on the path to reauthorization in the coming months.”


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Young Invincibles: House Labor-H Bill Threatens Higher Education Access For Hardworking Students and Families


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

CONTACT: Nina Smith,, 301-717-9006

House Labor-H Bill Threatens Higher Education Access For Hardworking Students and Families 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the House Appropriations Committee released their version of the FY 2017 Labor-H Appropriations bill, which includes regressive cuts to Pell and provisions that restrict the Department of Education’s ability to regulate higher education institutions.

Rory O’Sullivan, deputy director of Young Invincibles, said the following:

“At a time when tuition and student debt levels are exploding, the House version of the Labor-H appropriations bill released today slashes financial aid for hardworking students across the country. Taking $1.3 billion from Pell Grants threatens to make college less affordable for over eight million low- and moderate-income individuals. Worse still, the bill strips out critical protections that ensure minimum educational outcomes for students attending career colleges. Finally, the bill cuts $100 million from apprenticeships expansion efforts, an essential tool to modernize our workforce and ensure young people have the skills to achieve successful careers. Now more than ever, our generation needs effective education and training beyond high school to achieve economic security and this bill would make those opportunities harder to reach.

We’re disappointed in the current bill, but we remain hopeful that during the upcoming markups, and in the months to come, common sense solutions to fix higher education will prevail over measures that threaten access for millions of hardworking students and families.”



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Tepid May jobs report underscores need for innovation and reform


MayJobs 2016

Looking at some of the headlines for the May jobs report, you’d think America’s employment situation is in rough shape. After all, the economy added only 38,000 jobs, the slowest growth since 2010. Some speculated that Fed Chair Janet Yellen might delay interest rate hikes due to the sluggish job growth.

The monthly jobs report can be sliced and diced different ways though, and May’s report shows some interesting trends for young adults. But further analysis points to persistent inequities for marginalized communities and it underscore a need for innovation and targeted reform in our employment system. With that in mind, it’s worth it to take a step back, and look at these  trends. This month, we compare the unemployment rates for young adults, broken out by demographic between May 2015 and May 2016.

By this comparison, the employment picture for young adults improved overall since last year. The unemployment rate facing young African Americans declined 2.6 points, and young Latinos’ rate declined 1.9 points. However, rates of unemployment for young people of color are almost double their white counterparts. This is clear evidence that structural disparities remain and more work needs to be done on workforce policy and college affordability to improve our economy overall.

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