Chronic pain is associated with reduced work participation, but longitudinal data on the work impact of chronic pain are limited. We used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-1997 cohort to analyze how pain interference in early adulthood was associated with subsequent exit from the labor force in a longitudinal survey. Pain interference at age 29 and employment status were self-reported at subsequent biennial interviews. Exit from the labor force, return to employment, and development of new health-related work limitations after age 29 were analyzed using survival analysis methods. Among 5,819 respondents, 10% and 3% endorsed "a little" or "a lot" of pain interference at age 29, respectively. During follow-up (median of 26 months until censoring or labor force exit), 43% of respondents had exited the labor force at least once, and 10% developed a new work-related health limitation. The highest pain interference group (compared to no pain interference) had higher hazard of labor force exit (hazard ratio, HR: 1.26; 95% confidence interval, CI: 1.01, 1.57; p=0.044) and of developing new health-related work limitations (HR: 2.45; 95% CI: 1.64, 3.67; p<0.001), with similar results for the group experiencing "a little" pain interference at age 29. In this nationally representative cohort, any level of pain interference reported at age 29 was found to predict increased hazards of subsequent labor force exit and health-related work limitation. Early identification and treatment of pain problems among young workers can help reduce burdens of future unemployment and disability.