- OBJECTIVES: The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the earnings losses that young workers experience in the year after a work disability absence. METHODS: The sample consisted of workers aged 16 to 24 years from a longitudinal survey of a representative sample of Canadians. Young workers who lost > or =5 days of work due to work disability or illness (ie, work disability absence) were matched to uninjured controls on the basis of age, gender, preabsence earnings, and student status. This matching procedure resulted in 173 cases and 795 controls. The outcome measure was the difference in earnings the year after the work disability episode between injured cases and their uninjured controls. RESULTS: An analysis of variance indicated that young workers experiencing a work disability absence had significantly fewer earnings than their controls in the year after the absence (P<0.05). This earnings loss was not due to between-group differences in school activity or workhours in the year after the work absence. CONCLUSIONS: No study to date has estimated the impact of work-related disability on earnings trajectories among young workers. The findings of the present study indicate that earnings losses can occur among young workers even during their transition into the labor market. Documenting the economic impacts of work injuries early in one's worklife can provide information for policy debates on the allocation of resources to control workplace hazards where teenagers and young adults work and debates on the determination of fair and adequate benefits for young workers.