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Youth Disconnection during the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Mark Borgschulte

    (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

  • Gabrielle Pepin

    (W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research)


This paper studies the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth disconnection—i.e., the share of young people who were neither in school nor at work. Youth disconnection offers important advantages, relative to unemployment or participation rates, as a measure of the labor market for the most marginal and disadvantaged youth. Before the pandemic, approximately one out of eight young people between the ages of 18 and 24 were disconnected. The disconnection rate increased dramatically in April 2020 because of the pandemic; however, it has decreased quickly since that time. The increase in the disconnection rate at the beginning of the pandemic was mostly driven by a reduction in full-time work, but toward the end of 2020, the school enrollment rate also fell. Within-individual transition analysis reveals that the pandemic drove some individuals to disconnection, regardless of whether those persons were in school, at work, or already disconnected. Full-time workers saw the largest increase in transition to disconnection. Compared to the 2007 recession, the full-time-work to full-time-work transition decreased more and the full-time-work to disconnection transition increased more during this pandemic.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Borgschulte & Gabrielle Pepin, 2021. "Youth Disconnection during the COVID-19 Pandemic," Upjohn Working Papers 21-348, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:21-348

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    COVID-19; youth labor market; youth disconnection;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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