Rice economist to participate in creation of next U.S. Department of Labor survey on youth in the workplace

Flavio Cunha in front of his bookcase

Rice University economist Flávio Cunha will participate in the establishment of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 2027, the latest effort from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to understand how youth are participating in the labor market and how that impacts their lives and livelihood.

Flavio Cunha in front of bookcase
Flávio Cunha. Photo by Jeff Fitlow. 

RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, is leading the partnership with Rice and the University of Kansas. Misty Heggeness, associate professor of public affairs and economics at KU, will lead her university’s role in the partnership.

Cunha, department chair of economics and the Ervin Kenneth Zingler Professor of Economics at Rice, said the NLSY has been used significantly to conduct research on youth employment, job availability and workforce training as well as to further economic theory and better understand how youth interact with the workforce and the impact it has on other parts of their lives. Prior NLSY surveys were conducted with cohorts from 1979 and 1997.

“For many years, the National Longitudinal Surveys have stood as a cornerstone for labor economists investigating the labor market dynamics and pivotal life events across various cohorts of young Americans,” Cunha said. “Our anticipation grows as we embark on a collaboration with RTI to develop the NLSY 2027. We believe that delivering a product of exceptional quality will not only propel scientific progress but also spark innovation in public policy. This partnership is a forward-looking endeavor that illustrates our commitment to fostering meaningful impacts in the realms of science and policy.”

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 RTI principal scientist and project director Charlie Knott. “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.”

The survey is regarded as the preeminent source for understanding how people experience the labor market from adolescence through middle age. Cunha said it is especially beneficial to researchers in the fields of economics, labor, business and more. With its data collected from surveys integrated with government data, its goal is to enable researchers to make sense of economic trends and their causes.