Fifteen percent of young people in the United States are neither in school nor working, according to a new study released Monday by The Opportunity Nation coalition.
The study looked at youths between the ages of 16 to 24, and estimated almost 6 million are out of school but also without jobs. Researchers tracked 16 factors—including Internet access, income inequality, and public safety—and found that the most supportive states of young people are Vermont, Minnesota, and North Dakota; at the bottom of the list are Nevada, Mississippi, and New Mexico.
“This is not a group that we can write off. They just need a chance,” Mark Edwards, executive director of The Opportunity Nation coalition, told the Associated Press.
According to the AP, other studies have also shown that without school, young people miss opportunities to build life skills for the future, and that lack of experience is directly tied to their career options. Without the proper skills, young adults will not be able to command higher salaries and are more likely to be an economic drain on their communities.
But Edwards is optimistic about the opportunities to turn the statistics around, especially with programs from early childhood to high school graduates aimed at working with youths to prepare them for careers. “The tendency is to see them as lost souls and see them as unsavable. They are not.”
Youth unemployment remained high throughout the recession and recovery in the United States, but also globally. The unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds was 16.3% in July, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is more than double the overall 7.3% American unemployment rate.