Charts of the Week: Employment and the workforce

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The (un)happiness of American men out of the labor force, high quality jobs for young people, and accessibility for people with disabilities in the workforce. In this edition of Charts of the Week, a look at the state of American employment.

Life satisfaction for prime-aged men out of the workforce in the US is remarkably low

Men out of the labor force in the United States have the largest well-being gap in world, according to a new report spanning four regions of the world from Carol Graham and Sergio Pinto. Poor and working-class whites in the U.S. report less hope for the future and more stress than their African-American and Hispanic counterparts. The latter groups face objectively more disadvantages but have developed much better coping mechanisms over time. Graham and Pinto outline their data in their report and urge the need for rethinking models of growth and how Americans view progress.

Figure 1 – The bars represent the range of life satisfaction prime-aged men out of the labor force are feeling, and the middle dot represents their mean satisfaction level.

Figure 1. Life satisfaction for the EU, MENA, LAC, and U.S. (within-region)

29-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to have high-quality jobs

This collaborative report between Child Trends and the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings found that when controlling for race and ethnicity, the most important factors leading young people to higher quality jobs were access to education, internships and apprenticeships, and early access to the labor market. The researchers laid out four solutions to implement in secondary education that would provide disadvantaged students more opportunities. “Helping young people prepare to engage in work and life as productive adults is a central challenge for any society,” the authors wrote.

29-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to have high-quality jobs

Metros with the highest and lowest employment rates among adults with disabilities

There is a significant gap in employment between adults with disabilities and able-bodied adults, but Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman from the Metropolitan Policy Program found that this gap narrows in tight markets in large metros. Where there is more demand for labor, people with disabilities are employed more frequently—though not at a comparable rate to their able-bodied counterparts. Investing in education, removing barriers in the hiring process, and fighting stigma against people with disabilities will ultimately help them get hired at a more frequent rate, Ross and Bateman contend.

Map 1Julia O’Hanlon contributed to this post.