The Reality of Youth Employment in Adams County

*Using the estimates for CCIP, a basic estimate was used to calculate the percentage of individuals at or above the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Adams County in 2018 ($27,684) Source: US Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. The US Census Bureau uses estimates only and there can be a large margin of error.

The Challenge We Face

Colorado has the ninth fastest population growth in the United States and Adams County is projected to be one of the fastest growing counties in Colorado in both population and employment. In order for our community to have a sustainable economic base, it is critical that the population is employed at a wage that allows them to be self-sufficient.

Current data shows that only 64.4% of young people ages 18-24 in Adams County (approximately 27,700 of 43,000 youth) are earning a wage at the self-sufficiency standard.This equates to approximately 15,000 youth who are not making a wage that allows them to afford the basic needs for their families.

If all variables remain the same and with Adams County’s growing population, the percent at or above the Self Sufficiency Standard could be expected to plateau, with no noticeable signs of improvement.

In addition, roughly 5,600 of these young people live below the poverty line. When this data is disaggregated by race and ethnicity, there are clear gaps for youth of color, with a larger proportion of Hispanic or Latino residents living below the poverty line compared to Non-Hispanic White residents.

To learn more about the self-sufficiency standards, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about the self-sufficiency standard for Adams County, CLICK HERE.

Determining The Baseline

The baseline provides the Partnership with a starting point from which to gain understanding of what is happening with youth employment in Adams and Broomfield Counties. The overall baseline illustrates the overarching outcome that this Partnership is hoping to improve.

The Partnership was originally hoping to create a baseline based on youth ages 16-24, however discovered challenges with what data is currently available. The data for youth ages 16-24 who are employed at a self-sufficient wage is not collected and reported in a standardized way. As a result, several steps were taken to determine the most objective baseline by considering the following:

Earnings are reported by the following age groups:

  • Ages 18-24; OR
  • Ages 16 and up (cannot cut off at age 24 or disaggregate the data by age)

Unemployment rates are also reported using the same age ranges

A team comprised of data experts from ACYI, Adams County Government, and the City and County of Broomfield determined the baseline as a jumping off point by looking at data for:

  • Number of young people ages 18-24 who fell into the self-sufficiency wage bucket
  • Poverty status for young people ages 18-24, both employed and unemployed
  • These two numbers were calculated from the total population ages 18-24 to determine the percentage of young people ages 18-24 who are employed at a wage that allows them to be self-sufficient.

The team developed this baseline around young people ages 18-24 first because of the accessibility and availability of this data. As data collection and accessibility changes, future data may reflect youth ages 16-17.

Why This Matters

It is not the lack of work that drives poverty, but rather the economic opportunity in the economy for those who are working.

Using the Self-Sufficiency Standard reveals a different picture of poverty—most succinctly, that poverty has become working poverty—which in turn compels a reexamination of assumptions about what causes, and therefore, what “cures” poverty.

Economic inequality adversely affects the major levers of opportunity, including education, health, work policies, housing, and asset building. It also strains Colorado’s and the country’s overall economic stability and productivity.

RAISING INCOMES means enhancing skills as well as improving access to jobs that pay self-sufficient wages and have career potential. A strong economy will mean good jobs that pay self-sufficient wages, a workforce with the skills necessary to fill those jobs, and enhancing links and removing barriers between those jobs and the workers that need them.

What Are We Doing About This?

A team from the community, including the Adams County Workforce & Business Center, the City and County of Broomfield, the Metro North Chamber of Commerce, and Adams County Education Consortium, are in the beginning stages of assembling to launch a collective effort, that will be inclusive of all sectors and representative of the community, to increase the number of young people ages 18-24 who are employed at a self-sufficient wage, with the goal of closing disparity gaps in employment in Adams County. LEARN MORE

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