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Welcome! This site is a visualization of the information contained in Measure of America's latest report, Promising Gains, Persistent Gaps. Explore here and then read the full report.

YOUTH DISCONNECTION

NATIONALLY

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 16 percent over five years, from 14.7 percent in 2010 in the aftermath of the Great Recession to 12.3 percent in 2015. This translates to roughly 900,000 fewer young people cut off from pathways that lead to independent, rewarding adulthoods.
BREAKDOWN BY RACE & GENDER
The youth disconnection rate varies by race and ethnicity and by gender; Native Americans have the highest rate, 25.4 percent, Asian Americans the lowest, 7.2 percent.
 
 
BREAKDOWN BY RURAL / URBAN REGION
Rural counties have a youth disconnection rate of 20.3 percent, on average, compared to 14.2 percent in urban centers and 12.3 percent in suburbs. Regions vary; the average youth disconnection rate for rural counties in the South is 24.1 percent.

YOUTH DISCONNECTION

BY STATE

Young people are disconnected at rates that range from under 8 percent in some states (New Hampshire, Nebraska, North Dakota, Vermont, Minnesota, and Iowa) to over twice that in others, with New Mexico, West Virginia, and Mississippi facing the greatest challenges. Click a state to see how its youth disconnection rate has changed since 2008.

17.5%

14.3%

12.3%

11.5%

9.7%

7.1%

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.

30.3%

19.0%

15.0%

12.5%

10.0%

4.8%

YOUTH DISCONNECTION

BY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

In the country’s congressional districts, youth disconnection ranges from 4.4 percent in Wisconsin District 2, the mostly urban Madison area, to 23.1 percent in Kentucky District 5 in rural Appalachia.

23.1%

15.4%

13.0%

11.0%

9.3%

4.4%

YOUTH DISCONNECTION

BY METRO AREA

In the country’s ninety-eight most populous metro areas, youth disconnection ranges from 6.5 percent in greater Albany, New York to 21.0 percent in the Augusta metro area, which straddles Georgia and South Carolina.

21.0%

14.3%

12.1%

11.0%

9.5%

6.5%

YOUTH DISCONNECTION

BY COUNTY

Ten counties in Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas have youth disconnection rates that approach 0 percent. The highest rate is found in Wheeler County, Georgia, 83.5 percent. The next-highest rate is in Hamilton County, Florida, 62.1 percent.

83.5%

24.5%

19.5%

15.5%

11.8%

0.0%

YOUTH DISCONNECTION

OVERVIEW

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 16 percent over five years, from 14.7 in 2010 in the aftermath of the Great Recession to 12.3 percent in 2015. This translates to roughly 900,000 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 4.9 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 Asian Americans 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, Promising Gains, Persistent Gaps: Youth Disconnection in America.
METHODOLOGICAL NOTE
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 2015. Time series data are one-year estimates from the relevant year. County data are from 2010–2014. 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 Durham–Chapel Hill, North Carolina) 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 a list of counties for which rates are available are available here.

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CREDITS
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.