Report: Nearly 1 in 6 young Americans sitting around, doing nothing with their lives

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, October 21, 2013

A whopping 15 percent of young Americans aged 16 to 24 are either unemployed or out of school, according to a new report released Monday by The Opportunity Nation coalition.

The coalition, a bipartisan, cross-sector national campaign consisting of more than 250 organizations and individuals working to expand economic opportunity in the United States, is focused on reversing this trend by giving these “idle” Millennials the opportunities necessary to succeed in the workforce or academia.

“This is not a group that we can write off. They just need a chance,” The Opportunity Nation coalition Executive Director Mark Edwards told The Associated Press. “The tendency is to see them as lost souls and see them as unsavable. They are not.”

Creating this change is a feat in itself, however. The coalition also found that there has been an increase in the number of families living in poverty in 49 states – and a drop in household median incomes in 45 states – just in the last year. These challenges could be problematic for these young adults to overcome in the future, according to the report.

The Opportunity Nation looked at 16 key factors, including Internet access, college graduation rates, income inequality and public safety, to come up with its findings. Among the states the organization found were the most supportive for young Americans were Vermont, Minnesota and North Dakota; at the bottom were Nevada, Mississippi and New Mexico.  The report also found that there are higher populations of idle youth in large cities like Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

“Their destiny is too often determined by their ZIP code,” Charlie Mangiardi, who works with the non-profitYearUp, told the AP. “We have the supply. We don’t have a lack of young people who need this opportunity.”

According to the report, nearly 20 percent of young people are idle in Mississippi and West Virginia – a much larger percentage than their older counterparts in the two states. In Mississippi, the overall unemployment rate is about 8 percent, while in West Virginia it’s around 7 percent.

Millennials also become idle because they come from poor family structures and schools with low graduation rates.

“A lot of times we don’t want to look at data because we don’t want to be depressed,” Rob Denson, the president of Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa, told the AP. 

h/t Associated Press

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