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Indicator 27: Youth and Young Adults Neither Enrolled in School nor Working
(Last Updated: July 2017)

In 2015, the percentage of 20- to 24-year-olds who were neither enrolled in school nor working ranged from 9 percent for Asian young adults to 38 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native young adults.

Youth and young adults who are neither enrolled in school nor working may face limited future prospects because they are detached from these core activities for this age group. There are many reasons why youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 may be neither enrolled in school nor working. For example, they may be seeking but unable to find work or they may have left the workforce or school, either temporarily or permanently, for personal or financial reasons. This indicator provides information on youth and young adults at an age when most are transitioning into postsecondary education or the workforce. This is a critical period for young people as they pursue educational, occupational, and other goals.


Figure 27.1. Percentage of persons 18 to 24 years old who were neither enrolled in school nor working, by age group and race/ethnicity: 2015

Figure 27.1. Percentage of persons 18 to 24 years old who were neither enrolled in school nor working, by age group and race/ethnicity: 2015


‡ Reporting standards not met. Either there are too few cases for a reliable estimate or the coefficient of variation (CV) is 50 percent or greater.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 501.30.


In 2015, lower percentages of youth ages 18 to 19 (13 percent) than of young adults ages 20 to 24 (17 percent) were neither enrolled in school nor working. This same pattern was observed for all racial/ethnic groups, with the exception of youth and young adults of Two or more races for whom there was no measurable difference and for Pacific Islanders for whom a comparison could not be made due to reporting standards not being met for youth ages 18 to 19. Within these age groups, there were differences in the percentages of youth and young adults neither enrolled in school nor working between racial/ethnic groups. Among youth ages 18 to 19, higher percentages of Black and Hispanic youth (18 percent and 16 percent, respectively) than of White youth (11 percent) were neither enrolled in school nor working. The percentage was also higher for Black youth than youth of Two or more races (11 percent). A lower percentage of Asian youth (5 percent) than of American Indian/Alaska Native (18 percent), Black (18 percent), Hispanic (16 percent), and White (11 percent) youth were neither enrolled in school nor working.

Among young adults ages 20 to 24, a higher percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native young adults (38 percent) than of young adults of all other racial/ethnic groups were neither enrolled in school nor working. Additionally, the percentage of Black young adults (23 percent) was higher than the percentage of young adults of Two or more races (17 percent), White young adults (15 percent), and Asian young adults (9 percent). A lower percentage of Asian young adults were neither enrolled in school nor working than of young adults of all other racial/ethnic groups.


Figure 27.2. Percentage of persons 18 to 24 years old who were neither enrolled in school nor working, by family poverty status and race/ethnicity: 2015

Figure 27.2. Percentage of persons 18 to 24 years old who were neither enrolled in school nor working, by family poverty status and race/ethnicity: 2015


! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
NOTE: "Poor" is defined to include families with incomes below the poverty threshold. "Nonpoor" is defined to include families with incomes at or above the poverty threshold. For information about how the Census Bureau determines who is in poverty, see https://www.census.gov/topics/income-poverty/poverty/guidance/poverty-measures.html. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 501.30.


In general, higher percentages of young adults ages 20 to 24 from poor families compared to nonpoor families1 were neither enrolled in school nor working in 2015. This same pattern was observed for all racial/ethnic groups, except Asian young adults for whom there was no measurable differences. Differences in percentages of young adults neither enrolled in school nor working were also found between racial/ethnic groups. Among poor families, a higher percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native young adults (60 percent) than of young adults of all other racial/ethnic groups were neither enrolled in school nor working, with the exception of Pacific Islander young adults (49 percent) and young adults of Two or more Races (34 percent) for whom there was no measurable difference. A lower percentage of poor Asian young adults (9 percent) were neither enrolled in school nor working than poor young adults of all other racial/ethnic groups. Additionally, a lower percentage of poor White young adults (28 percent) than poor Black (36 percent) and poor Hispanic (35 percent) young adults were neither enrolled in school nor working.

Among nonpoor families, a higher percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native young adults (33 percent) than of young adults of all other racial/ethnic groups were neither enrolled in school nor working. Additionally, higher percentages of Black and Hispanic young adults (both 18 percent) were neither enrolled in school nor working than of Asian (9 percent) and White (12 percent) young adults, and young adults of Two or more races (13 percent).

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1 "Poor" is defined to include families with incomes below the poverty threshold. "Nonpoor" is defined to include families with incomes at or above the poverty threshold. For information about how the Census Bureau determines who is in poverty, see https://www.census.gov/topics/income-poverty/poverty/guidance/poverty-measures.html.