Left Behind in the Labor Market: Recent Employment Trends Among Young Black Men

With record numbers of low-income, single mothers having left welfare and joined the workforce over the past several years, many policymakers involved in the welfare reauthorization debate are focusing on strategies to promote the formation of two-parent families. This study finds that in contrast to their female counterparts, a significantly smaller proportion of young black men with no more than a high school education are working today than 20 years ago. In particular, central cities, and older industrial metro areas like Buffalo, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, appear to offer this group more limited employment prospects than the rest of the nation. The authors conclude with recommendations for how welfare policy could help disadvantaged young fathers succeed in the labor market and contribute to the well-being of young mothers and their children.