Report shows growing number of disconnected youth

December 5, 2012 at 10:46 am

Kids Count released a report looking at youth and employment, specifically at the issue of “disconnected youth”– those between the ages of 16 and 24 who are both not in school and out of work. Nationally, there are 6.5 million disconnected youth, and since 2000 these numbers have grown. Only half of youth 16-24 years old held jobs in 2011, and among teens only one out of four held jobs. In 2000, half of teens had jobs.

The report shows that the disparity is more acute for certain populations of youth. The overall percentage of disconnected youth is 13 percent between ages 16 and 19, and 20 percent between age 20 and 24. But among African Americans, 16 percent of  youth age 16 to 19 are disconnected and 29 percent of youth aged 20 to 24 are disconnected. Among Hispanics, the rate is 16 percent in the age 16 to 19 group, and 23 percent in the 20 to 24 group. The disparity is also pronounced along income groups. In families earning $20,000 or less, the percent of disconnected youth is 21 percent and 30 percent for the 16 to 19 age group and 20 to 24 age group respectively.

In terms of youth employment, North Carolina falls behind the national average. In 2011, 26 percent of youth in the 16 to 19 age group were employed, and 61 percent were employed in the 20 to 24 age group nationally. The state employment rate for 16 to 19 year olds is 20 percent, and for 20 to 24 year olds it’s 58 percent.

The report give some reasons to explain this declining trend in  youth employment: fewer jobs, greater requirements, and fewer youth with job-ready skills. The problem is widespread, and touches both youth who do not go to college to college graduates. Whatever the reason, this is a significant problem, and one that will have ripple in these young people’s lives for years to come.

Studies show that youth who miss out on an early work experience are more likely to endure later unemployment and less likely to achieve higher levels of career attainment. Everyone needs opportunities in their teen years and young adulthood to experience work and attain the job readiness skills needed for long-term success.11 Those shut out of the labor market for considerable periods, especially in the early stages of their careers, have markedly reduced prospects for later connections to jobs.

The economic potential of these youth is effectively being curtailed right at the start, when they should be gaining valuable entry-level skills. This is a problem not only at the individual or family level, but at the community, state, and national levels as well. Kids Count outlines several solutions to address this problem. Some efforts already exist, like the Summer Youth Employment Program, but, as the report points out, what is needed is a cross-sector”multifaceted” approach that can address the challenge systemically. The flow chart below illustrates the different options that could exist for youth at various stages. All of these options are necessary in order to ensure that all young people have access to economic opportunity.

Entry filed under: Economic Development, Economy, Jobs & Employment. Tags: , , , , .

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