Welcome! This site is a visualization of the information contained in Measure of America's latest report, Making the Connection: Transportation and Youth Disconnection. Explore here and then read the full report.
Disconnected youth are young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school and not working.The national youth disconnection rate dropped 22 percent over seven years, from 14.7 percent in 2010 in the aftermath of the Great Recession to 11.5 percent in 2017. This translates to roughly 1,300,000 fewer young people cut off from pathways that lead to independent, rewarding adulthoods.
BREAKDOWN BY RACE & ETHNICITY & BY GENDER
The youth disconnection rate varies by race and ethnicity and by gender; Native Americans have the highest rate, 23.9 percent, Asians the lowest, 6.6 percent.
CONTRASTING PROFILES: CONNECTED VS. DISCONNECTED YOUTH
Who are disconnected youth? Young people both not working and not in school. This definition captures the categorical difference between disconnected and connected young people, but the two groups differ in many ways that go beyond their current employment and educational status. For example, disconnected women are more than four times as likely to be mothers as connected women.Explore more differences between connected youth and disconnected youth.
A DEEPER DIVE ON YOUTH WITH A DISABILITY
Disability is not a monolithic category. The American Community Survey, the source for our disconnected youth calculations, asks six questions about difficulties a person may have with physical or mental activities. If the answer to any one of the six following questions is yes, the person is categorized as having a disability:
Self-care difficulty: Does this person have difficulty dressing or bathing?
Hearing difficulty: Is this person deaf or does he or she have serious difficulty hearing?
Vision difficulty: Is this person blind or does he or she have serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses?
Independent-living difficulty: Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have difficulty doing errands alone, such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping?
Ambulatory difficulty: Does this person have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs?
Cognitive difficulty: Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?
Each respondent with a disability could report anywhere between one and six of these types of difficulties. Disconnected youth with disabilities are nearly twice as likely to have three or more types of difficulties, greatly compounding their challenges.
Three or More Difficulties
BREAKDOWN BY RURAL / URBAN AREA
Rural counties have a youth disconnection rate of 18.7 percent, on average, compared to 12.3 percent in urban centers and 10.8 percent in suburbs.
Young people are disconnected at rates that range from under 8 percent in some states (Minnesota, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and New Hampshire) to over twice that in others, with West Virginia, New Mexico, and Mississippi facing the greatest challenges. Click a state to see how its youth disconnection rate has changed since 2008.
BREAKDOWN BY RACE & ETHNICITY
The youth disconnection rate for whites is lower than the rates for either blacks or Latinos in every state for which data are available except Michigan, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Nevada. In all of these states, the Latino rate is lower than the white rate.
BY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
In the country’s congressional districts, youth disconnection ranges from 4.4 percent in Massachusetts District 7, encompassing most of Boston, to 23.5 percent in Kentucky District 5 in the southeast portion of the state.
BY METRO AREA
In the country’s ninety-eight most populous metro areas, youth disconnection ranges from 5.6 percent in greater Grand Rapids, Michigan to 18.0 percent in the Memphis, Tennessee metro area.
The highest rate is found in East Carroll Parish, Louisiana, 75.1 percent, followed by 72.9 percent in Forest County, Pennsylvania, and 71.0 percent in Hancock County, Georgia.
Measure of America, a project of the Social Science Research Council, aims to breathe life into numbers, using data to foster understanding of our shared challenges and support for people-centered policies. We care about human development—the process of building people’s capabilities, improving their well-being, and expanding their opportunities to live freely chosen lives of value.Young adulthood is when people develop many of the capabilities required to live a good life: knowledge and credentials, social skills and networks, a sense of mastery and agency, an understanding of one’s strengths and preferences, and the ability to handle stressful events and regulate one’s emotions, to name just a few. Measure of America is thus concerned with youth disconnection because it impedes human development, closing off some of life’s most rewarding and joyful paths and leading to a future of limited horizons.Disconnected youth are young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school and not working. The youth disconnection rate tells us a lot about the opportunities available to teens and young adults from different racial and ethnic groups and in different parts of the country. Understanding who disconnected youth are, the challenges they face, and where they live is the first step to helping them. Doing so is critical for all of us. Youth disconnection’s harms accrue not only to young people themselves, but also to society at large. Society pays a price in terms of reduced competitiveness, lower tax revenues, and higher health, social services, and criminal justice costs, to name just a few.First, the good news: the national youth disconnection rate is falling! Fewer young people are cut off from school and work today than were before the Great Recession. The rate dropped 22 percent over seven years, from 14.7 percent in 2010 in the aftermath of the Great Recession to 11.5 percent in 2017. This translates to roughly 1,300,000 fewer young people cut off from pathways that lead to independent, rewarding adulthoods.Now, the bad news: youth disconnection is still a serious problem, with 4.5 million young Americans neither working nor in school. The gaps between racial and ethnic groups remain large; Native American, black, and Latino young people face higher disconnection rates than whites and Asians at every income level. Place matters, too: the average disconnection rate in rural areas is much higher than in urban and suburban areas, and states, cities, and rural counties in the South tend to have higher rates than those in the North.The maps and graphs above allow you to explore the latest youth disconnection data for yourself. What’s happening in your county? How are different racial and ethnic groups faring in your state? Which places are doing the best, and which ones are doing the worst? Are things getting better, and for whom? Find out!If you want to understand more about youth disconnection, read our latest report, Making the Connection: Transportation and Youth Disconnection.
The youth disconnection rates above are Measure of America calculations of data from the US Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey. State, congressional district, and metro area data are from 2017. Time series data are one-year estimates from the relevant year. County data are from 2013–2017. Read the full methodological note here.The metro areas featured above, officially called Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), are designated by the White House Office of Management and Budget. Of the country’s one hundred most populous MSAs, two (Madison, Wisconsin and Palm Bay, Florida) cannot be included in the tool because the standard errors are too large for the estimates to be reliable. The full names of MSAs as well as maps of their boundaries are available here.
TAKE THE YOUTH DISCONNECTION
Site created by Laura Laderman, Data Analyst, Measure of America in partnership with Humantific, who provided key visual language and design elements. Video created by Goodnews.