NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Nearly 6 Million U.S. Youth out of School, Work

October 23, 2013

Almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working, according to a new study. That's almost 15 percent of those aged 16 to 24 who have neither desk nor job, according to The Opportunity Nation coalition, which wrote the report, says the Associated Press.

Other studies have shown that idle young adults are missing out on a window to build skills they will need later in life or use the knowledge they acquired in college. Without those experiences, they are less likely to command higher salaries and more likely to be an economic drain on their communities.

  • The coalition also finds that 49 states have seen an increase in the number of families living in poverty and 45 states have seen household median incomes fall in the last year.
  • The dour report underscores the challenges young adults face now and foretell challenges they are likely to face as they get older.
  • A young person's community is often closely tied to his or her success.
  • The Opportunity Nation report tracked 16 factors -- Internet access, college graduation rates, income inequality and public safety among them -- and identified states that were doing well for its young people.
  • Topping the list of supportive states are Vermont, Minnesota and North Dakota.
  • At the bottom? Nevada, Mississippi and New Mexico.

"Their destiny is too often determined by their ZIP code," says Charlie Mangiardi, who works with Year Up, a nonprofit that trains young adults for careers and helps them find jobs.

Just look at some of the nation's largest cities.

  • Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Riverside, Calif., all have more than 100,000 idle youth, the Opportunity Nation report found.
  • In Mississippi and West Virginia, 1 in 5 young people are idle -- higher than their older neighbors.
  • Mississippi has an overall unemployment rate of 8 percent, while West Virginia posts about 7 percent.

Source: Philip Elliott, "Study: 15 Percent of U.S. Youth out of School, Work," Associated Press, October 21, 2013.


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