Young Adults and Teenagers who are Disconnected from School and the Workforce in Washington

January, 2021
January, 2021

The Legislature directed the Education Research and Data Center to conduct a study in 2020 that explores the trajectory of young people between 16 and 29 years old who are disconnected from education and the workforce from 2015-19 (Section 129(23) of ESSB 6168, the enacted 2020 supplemental operating budget).

Here are the main findings:

  • From 2015 to 2019, the percent of young people who disconnected from high school without a high school diploma dropped slightly. This happened while the disconnection from postsecondary education rose among those who earned a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • As they grew older, the youngest cohort employed in Washington increased from 32% to 60%, while older cohorts remained around 51-58% employed.
  • Young people born in another country are more likely to be disengaged from both school and the workforce, while young people from low-income families are more likely to be disengaged from school but more involved in the workforce.
  • When compared to whites, Asians and multiracial young people, young people from other racial/ethnic groups are more likely to be disengaged from school.
  • When compared to whites, young people of color besides Hispanics/Latinx and American Indian/Alaska Native, are less likely to be employed between ages 16 and 29.