The Tragic Geography of Disconnected Youth

Richard Florida, The Atlantic Cities, September 14, 2012

More than one in seven young Americans are “disconnected” from work and from school, according to a report released Thursday by the Social Science Research Council’s Measure of America project.

The report (PDF) is based on data from the U.S. Census and American Community Survey, and looks specifically at the numbers of young people aged 16 to 24 who are neither working nor enrolled in school. The report tracked the data for the U.S. as a whole, in comparison to other countries, by race, and for the 25 largest metro areas as well as neighborhoods within cities.

Nationally, over 5.8 million young people (almost 15 percent) are disconnected—a figure that grew by 800,000 as a result of the economic crisis, according to the report.

Globally, the U.S. has a higher rate of youth disconnection than many advanced nations, including the United Kingdom (13.4 percent), Austria (11.4 percent), Canada (10.5 percent), Germany (9.5 percent), Norway (9.2 percent), Finland (8.6 percent), Switzerland (6.8 percent), Denmark (5.7 percent), and the Netherlands (4.1 percent).

Youth disconnection varies substantially by race. More than one in five (22.5 percent) young African-Americans are disconnected, 18.5 percent of Latinos, 11.7 percent of whites, and just 8 percent of Asian-Americans.

There is considerable variation by location as well. The table below, from the study, shows the top 25 large metros ranked by the percentage of disconnected youth, broken down by ethnicity. {snip}

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