Youth siting on bench By Mariamne Beuscher, communications intern

A new group of young people are gaining recognition within rural communities.

Measure of America released findings earlier this year which reveals that more than 4.9 million young people are falling behind in their transition to adulthood. The findings focus on disconnected youth, young people aged 16 – 24 who are not employed nor enrolled in school.

The findings reveal that the percentage of disconnected youth is significantly higher in rural communities than in urban and suburban areas; 20.3 percent versus 14.2 percent and 12.3 percent respectively. The growing numbers of disconnected youth mostly impact the western states of Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, and New Mexico. In the rural south the percentage of disconnected youth has reached a staggering 24 percent, a rate double that of the national average.

In the past, the perception has been that disconnected youth only affected urban areas. However, the current data reveals that the problem is more prevalent in rural areas. Additionally, according to the report, the share of young people impacted ranges based on race from one in 14 Asian American youth to more than one in four Native American youth.

Being detached from the labor market and the educational system during early adulthood can create long lasting damage in a young person’s life, experts say. The negative effects generated from being cut off from the resources necessary to develop the skills and knowledge required to lead a meaningful life not only impact the individual but create an additional rippling affect across the economy. Findings reveal that disconnected youth suffer from negative mental and physical health, higher rates of unemployment and lower incomes.

Disconnected youth are more likely to come from a disconnected community. Findings reveal that where there are more residents living below the poverty line, there are higher rates of disconnected youth.

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