Youth - Youth (age 16-19) by school enrollment, employment status and educational attainment in Pennsylvania

Change Indicator

Why This Indicator Matters

School enrollment reflects the total number of students registered to an educational institution within a specified population. The school enrollment rate forms the basis for several other educational indicators used in the calculation of the Human Development Index (HDI).[1] This index combines indicators of health, education, and income to evaluate countries’ social development, standard of living, and quality of life.[2] Employment status describes current standing in the labor force and is often suggestive of economic well-being, as unemployment is generally an indicator of family hardship. Unemployment usually improves with educational attainment, the highest degree or level of education completed by an individual.[3] Many Americans remain unable to achieve a high education level because of their low-income status, which drastically hinders their access to the resources that high-attaining, high-earning families use to achieve postsecondary education, thus perpetuating their socioeconomic status.[4]

Gaps in educational attainment by family income are believed to play a significant role in accounting for income inequality and socioeconomic mobility, characterized as one’s ability to move from one social or economic class to another.[5] When academically qualified people lack the financial resources needed to enroll and succeed in school, education fails to fulfil the promise of promoting social mobility and may even reinforce social inequities.[6] Analyzing youth by school enrollment, employment status, and educational attainment provides important insight into a population’s ability to obtain schooling as well as its relative wealth. Areas with high amounts of employed students indicate profound desire for greater educational attainment despite a lack of resources to achieve advanced degrees. Measurement of these statuses is incredibly important for policymakers and education leaders interested in creating more affordable schooling options in addition to increasing social mobility.


[1] Baker, D. & Halabi, S. (2014). School Enrollment. Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research. Springer, Dordrecht.

[2] United Nations Development Programme. (2021). Human Development Index (HDI).

[3] United States Census Bureau. (2021). About Educational Attainment.

[4] Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis (TCI). (2014). Unequal Opportunities: Fewer Resources, Worse Outcomes for Students in Schools with Concentrated Poverty.

[5] Chingos, M. & Dynarski, S. (2015). How can we Track Trends in Educational Attainment by Parental Income? Hint: Not with the Current Population Survey. Brookings Institution.

[6] Perna, L. & Odle, T. (2020). Recognizing the Reality of Working College Students. American Association of University Professors.

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Youth - Youth (age 16-19) by school enrollment, employment status and educational attainment

Data Provided By

Definitions: The number and percent of the population age 16 through 19 by school enrollment (in school/not in school), employment status (working/not working) and educational attainment (high school grad/not high school grad).

Data Source: (2005-2013) U.S Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 3-year estimates (B14005)

(2014 - current) U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 1-year estimate (B14005)

Footnotes: (2014 - current) Single year estimates should not be compared to prior 3-year estimates.

ND = DATA NOT DISPLAYED. Statistics (rates, ratios, percents) are not calculated and displayed for counts less than 10 (or less than 3 for Bayesian/Nearest Neighbor rates). This is due to the unreliability of statistics based on small numbers of events.

Regional rates were used in those counties not included in the ACS.

Updated November 2021.