Brookings: Teen Employment Low in Las Vegas - 8 News NOW

Brookings: Teen Employment Low in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS -- Among the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas 76 had higher teen employment rates than did Las Vegas in 2012, the Brookings Institution reported Thursday night.

The nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., reported that only 23.2 percent of Las Vegas teens aged 16 to 19 had jobs as of two years ago, a sharp decline from the 41.3 percent of that age group with employment in 2000.

The nation's highest teen employment rate, 48.6 percent, belonged to Provo, Utah, and the lowest, 15.1 percent, was recorded by Riverside, Calif. The national teen employment rate was 27.5 percent, down from 41.7 percent in 2000.

The institution's Metropolitan Policy Program estimated that 15,003 Las Vegas residents aged 16 to 19 weren't working, weren't in school and had less than an associate's degree. That translated to 14.8 percent of all residents in that age group, the worst percentage among the nation's largest metros.

Those findings supplemented a Brookings report that concluded teens suffered the most dramatic decline in employment rates nationwide since 2000.

Brookings estimated that 1.8 million teens in the nation's 100 largest metro areas were underutilized as of 2011 and roughly half of those were unemployed.

"Young people's struggles to gain a foothold in the labor force are costing us economically, through a smaller work force and disrupted career trajectories, leading to reduced earnings and spending, which in turn lead to slower economic growth and job creation," Brookings fellow Martha Ross said.

Ross, who co-authored the report, said that reduced employment among teens and other young adults is most pronounced among black individuals and those with lower levels of education and work experience.

"These findings point to a clear need to expand and strengthen initiatives that more tightly couple employer demand with education and training, to integrate work-based learning like internships, co-ops and apprenticeships into education, and to create stronger pathways from high school to post-secondary credentials," Ross said.

A silver lining in the Brookings report was that only 24 metros had higher employment rates for individuals aged 20 to 24 than did Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas employment rate in that age group actually increased from 68.7 percent in 2000 to 68.9 percent in 2012 despite the deep recession that caused double-digit unemployment. That was an improvement over the national employment rate in that age group, which fell from 68.5 percent to 63.1 percent.

But the estimated 26,857 residents aged 20 to 24 who didn't have a job, weren't attending school or had less than an associate's degree made up 20.9 percent of all Southern Nevadans in that age group, 88th worst percentage among the 100 largest metros.

The employment rate among individuals 25 and older dipped slightly in Las Vegas from 62.2 percent in 2000 to 60.4 percent in 2012. The 2012 rate was 67th highest among the largest metros.

The report's recommendations for increasing youth employment included:

* Incorporating work-based learning into high school and college education and expanding apprenticeships: students learn technical, academic and employability skills by working in a real work environment.

* Linking high school to post-secondary educational credentials: high school students can take college classes in structured and supportive programs to increase the chance that they will ultimately earn post-secondary credentials such as certificates and two- and four-year degrees.

* Helping young people, especially high school graduates not immediately enrolling in college, move into the labor market: more emphasis on high-quality career and technical education, career counseling and job development and placement;

* Providing opportunities for high school drop outs to earn a high school diploma or GED coupled with access to post-secondary credentials or occupational skills training.

* Tailoring career-focused education and training to the specific workforce and industry needs of a given region.

* Creating short-term subsidized community service jobs to address weak labor market demand for youth and help young people gain a foothold in the work world;

* Increasing the financial incentives to employment through an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, specifically targeting younger workers without custodial children.



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