Congressional Budget Office
In 2014, there were 38 million men in the United States between the ages of 18 and 34; about 5 million of those young men were jobless, and 1 million were incarcerated. Those numbers and some related longer-term trends have significant economic and budgetary implications. Young men who are jobless or incarcerated can be expected to have lower lifetime earnings and less stable family lives, on average, than their counterparts who are employed or in school. In the short term, their lower earnings will reduce tax revenues and increase spending on income support programs, and the incarceration of those in federal prison imposes costs on the federal government. Farther in the future, they will probably earn less than they would have if they had gained more work experience or education when young, resulting in a smaller economy and lower tax revenues.
The share of young men who are jobless or incarcerated has been rising. In 1980, 11 percent of young men were jobless or incarcerated; in 2014, 16 percent were . Specifically, 10 percent of young men were jobless in 1980, and 1 percent were incarcerated; those shares rose to 13 percent and 3 percent in 2014.
The rates also varied among racial and ethnic groups. In 2014 young
black men were about twice as likely to be jobless or incarcerated than
white or Hispanic young men were. The disparity was largely due,
however, to higher rates of incarceration among young black men.