The Transition to Stable Employment

The Experience of U.S. Youth in Their Early Labor Market Career

by Jacob Alex Klerman, Lynn A. Karoly


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This report uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey — Youth to examine the dynamics of the labor market experience of young people entering the labor market. The authors confirm the conventional wisdom that young people hold a large number of jobs. However, the authors' analysis shows that, by their early twenties, most young people have entered stable employment, defined as a job that will last one, two, or even three years. While there may be problems with the skills of labor market entrants, most young people are successfully finding jobs that yield long-term employment relations. The experience of the average youth, however, hides important subgroup differences. The results suggest that efforts to improve the school-to-work transition need to focus on those specific groups who fare worst in their early labor market career — most notably, high school dropouts.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    The National Longitudinal Survey--Youth Data

  • Chapter Three

    A Static View of the School-To-Work Transition

  • Chapter Four

    A Dynamic View of the School-To-Work Transition

  • Chapter Five

    Putting the NLS-Y Sample in Perspective: Trends in Activity Status and Job Tenure

  • Chapter Six


  • Appendix A

    Distribution of Sample by School-Leaving Groups

  • Appendix B

    Sensitivity of Results to an Alternative SLG Definition

  • Appendix C

    Sensitivity of Results of Dynamic Analysis to Stratification, by Whether Individual Returned to School

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