When Do They Settle Down?

Young People in the U.S. Labor Market

by Jacob Alex Klerman, Lynn A. Karoly

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This research brief describes work documented in The Transition to Stable Employment: The Experience of U.S. Youth in Their Early Labor Market Career (MR-564-NCRVE/UCB/LE).

Excerpt: What happens when young people leave high school and enter the labor force? There is a widely held perception that American high school graduates "mill about," holding many jobs and not settling into stable employment until their mid-to-late twenties. This early-career instability raises policy concerns about lost training and productivity: Supposedly, leaving a job courts risk of unemployment, job leavers lose the firm-specific skills they have developed, and high turnover discourages firms from training young people. Despite the certainty implied by a proliferation of school-to-work programs, this perception is not based on empirical evidence, and research results are contradictory.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research brief series. RAND research briefs present policy-oriented summaries of individual published, peer-reviewed documents or of a body of published work.

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