Almost half say getting real-world experience before going through more school was a key factor in their decision.
The nation’s economic upheaval has been especially hard on young people trying to start their working lives with a high school education or less. Only about a third are working full-time, compared with two-thirds of recent college grads, according to an Associated Press-Viacom poll.
Most say money was a major reason they bypassed college, and the vast majority aspire to more education someday.
Christopher Cadaret’s been fixing TVs and stereos for fun since he was 10 years old and thinks he’d like to work in electronics or auto repair. But four months after he dropped out of high school, he hasn’t found any kind of job.
He’s tried a local electronics company, the hardware store, the dollar store, the minimart. Nothing.
“I’m seeking work, anything that is put in front of me,” said Cadaret, 18, who lives with his father in Burkesville, Ky., a small town amid the hills and farmland along the Tennessee border. Without that first toehold on work, his dream of earning enough to save up for technical training seems far away.
Four in 10 of those surveyed whose education stopped at high school are unemployed. Less than a quarter have part-time jobs, the poll of 18- to 24-year-olds found.
The Labor Department’s figures document how much harder it’s become for these young adults to find a job since the recession that began late in 2007. The unemployment rate has been over 20 percent each March for the past three years for high school graduates ages 16-24 who have no college education. That’s up from 10 percent in March 2007 and 14.5 percent a year later.