Study: 15 Percent of US Youth Not in School, Not Working

Idleness among the U.S youth seems to be on the rise, according to recent study, which suggests that a significant portion of the American population is missing out on chances to build their work experiences and skills, leading to a danger of economic drain in their respective communities.

According to a study released by the Opportunity Nation coalition, almost 6 million Americans aged 16 to 24 are neither in school nor working. The coalition also found out that in 49 states the number of families living in poverty has increased and in 45 states the household median incomes has fallen in the last year. This report underlines the challenges that young Americans face or are likely to face in several years as they get older.

Idleness among young adults leads them to missing out on a window to build skills that they will need later in life or use the knowledge they acquired in college, as other studies show. Without those experiences, they are less likely to command higher salaries and more likely to be an economic drain on their communities.

"This is not a group that we can write off. They just need a chance," said Mark Edwards, executive director of the coalition of businesses, advocacy groups, policy experts and nonprofit organizations dedicated to increasing economic mobility. "The tendency is to see them as lost souls and see them as ‘unsavable'. They are not."

However, changing the dynamic still proves difficult. Success is closely tied to a young person's community. Sixteen factors including Internet access, college graduation rates, income inequality, and public safety were taken into account in the Opportunity Nation report to determine a rating of states depending on how are they doing for the young US citizens. Vermont, Minnesota and North Dakota top the list of supportive states while Nevada, Mississippi and New Mexico are at the bottom.

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

"We have the supply. We don't have a lack of young people who need this opportunity," he added.

According to the Opportunity Nation report, the nation's largest cities, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Riverside, California, have more than 100,000 idle youth.

"Often times they lack the social capital in life," Charlie said. "There's a whole pool of talent that is motivated, loyal and hardworking. They just can't get through an employer's door."

As a result, according to Phillip Elliot of Associated Press, Year Up spends a year working with high school graduates to teach them career skills such as computer programming or equipment repair they can use when the program ends. It also includes life coaching so they can learn skills such as time management.

More than 4,500 young adults from urban areas have completed the program and 84 percent of them have found work.

10 24, 2013
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