KU researcher part of national survey to study how youths take part in labor market

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas researcher will be part of a partnership to establish the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 2027, the latest effort from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics to understand how youths take part in the labor market and how that affects their lives and livelihood.

Misty Heggeness, associate professor of public affairs and economics at KU, will lead KU’s participation in the partnership. RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, is leading the partnership with KU and Rice University that was awarded as a contract by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The NLSY is used extensively to conduct research on the availability of jobs for the youth of today, the amount of training required for those jobs, as well as to advance economic theory and to understand how youth are engaging with the workforce and how that interacts with other aspects of their lives,” Heggeness said.

The survey will follow the same cohort of young people for more than four decades and ask a standard set of questions that collect data on their employment, training, education, income, assets, if they change jobs or living locations and more.

“We are honored to collaborate with BLS on this incredible national resource,” said Charlie Knott, RTI principal scientist and project director. “The NLSY27 design will allow BLS, researchers and policymakers to rigorously investigate outcomes in the labor market and the effects those outcomes have on people’s financial well-being and personal decisions.”

Heggeness, who researches economics, how women participate in the economy and more, formerly worked for the U.S. Census Bureau. She said she will help improve survey questions to gain more data on how women take part in the workforce and work to link data gained from the survey questions with administrative data from various branches of government to build a fuller picture of labor in a traditional sense and how labor in the home, such as caring for family, influences life, the economy and more.

“I want to help the survey make better use of alternate data. We hope to improve linkages between the survey and administrative resources to reduce costs and improve efficiency for the BLS in the long run,” Heggeness said. “That will help improve and expand the knowledge base of what’s happening with youth in the labor market today.”

The preeminent source for understanding how people experience the labor market from adolescence through middle age, the survey is especially valuable to researchers studying economics, labor, business and more. With its data collected from surveys integrated with government data, it will enable researchers to understand economic trends and their causes.

NLSY27 will follow previous surveys conducted with cohorts from 1979 and 1997. Heggeness said she anticipates helping build a body of data that documents the experiences of youths in the work force, especially in improving the understanding of how women take part and the role labor plays in the lives of young people. 

“I know we’ll be interested in looking at how many youth today are following the traditional four-year college path versus other types of specialized training, as well as better understanding paid labor and ‘informal’ or unpaid family labor,” Heggeness said. “One of the strengths of NLSY is it allows us to be confident in the trends we see in this cohort over time and understanding the factors behind them.”

Thu, 05/09/2024


Mike Krings

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