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Avoiding a Future of Unemployment and Low Wages: What Opportunities Are Open to Young and Unskilled Workers?


  • Robert Hutchens

    (The Jerome Levy Economics Institute)


Given the continuing shift in labor demand from low-skilled to higher- skilled occupations, Hutchens queries to the fate of the segment of the labor force that does not possess these skills. In order to answer the question, he examines the viability and access to three possible paths that a person with limited skills might take in order to avoid unemployment and/or low wages: (1) obtaining additional formal schooling; (2) obtaining a job that provides secure employment at "good" wages; or (3) procuring employment in a position that provides skills or training, thereby opening the door to good future jobs. He finds that (1) the majority of individuals did not undertake any additional formal schooling or training, and that the younger cohort was less likely to receive employer-provided training; (2) with the possible exception of employer-provided training among the younger cohort, failure to pursue additional training did not seem to carry a large penalty; (3) only weak evidence that industry and occupation in the early jobs were tied to career success later in life; and (4) attaining full-year employment and above-poverty earnings was more difficult among the younger cohort.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Hutchens, 1999. "Avoiding a Future of Unemployment and Low Wages: What Opportunities Are Open to Young and Unskilled Workers?," Macroeconomics 9907004, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9907004
    Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on PostScript; pages: 81; figures: included

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    JEL classification:

    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics


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