The world today has more young people than ever before. In fact, those aged 12 to 26 make up about one quarter of the world’s population, which is currently a little over 7.4 billion. However, a recently released analysis from a Washington, D.C.-based think tank has revealed some rather disturbing statistics about youngsters in the United States.
As it turns out, nearly 17 percent American young adults are neither working nor going to school. They aren’t even participating in employment training of any sort, according to a new report by Pew Research Center. More than 10.2 million young people are down on their luck and on the verge of becoming a “lost generation.”
“Teens and young adults were among the groups hit hardest by the global financial crisis. And while many young people have since regained their footing — as employees, students or both — there are still millions in the U.S. and abroad who are neither working nor in school,” the study stated.
Although these people, who are between 16 and 29 years old, are often referred to as “disconnected” or “detached” youth, they are officially called “NEETs,” as they are neither employed nor in education or training.
This revelation, needless to say, is quite worrisome.
Young people who are economically inactive and unwilling to learn any critical skills will never fully contribute to the economy or society. The world might be relying on them for social and economic progress, but a large part of the young generation won’t even manage to achieve their full earning potential if they continue down this path.
Fortunately, the NEET population has gone down slightly in the past couple of years, though they still pose a problem that needs to be tackled strategically.
The data analyzed by the nonpartisan research group also revealed there are more females (57 percent) than males (43 percent) who don't have a job, aren't going to school or participating in any training. Moreover, at least two-thirds of 16- to 29-year-olds have a high school education or less.
Race and ethnicity also seems to play an important role, as majority of NEETs in the U.S. belong to minority communities — especially African Americans and Hispanics.
About 22 percent of young black people, as compared to 16 percent of young whites, are neither employed nor in school; about 20 percent of young Hispanics also belong to the same group.
More research by Measure of America cites that “disconnected youth come overwhelmingly from communities that have long been isolated from the mainstream.” Their analysis found higher disconnection rates in the South and West of America than in the Northeast and Midwest.
The researchers also identified six factors associated with this detachment:
1. High rates of disconnection a decade earlier
2. Low levels of human development
3. High rates of poverty
4. Adult unemployment
5. Low levels of adult educational attainment
6. High degree of racial segregation
It’s high time the government takes concrete steps to overcome this problem, or an army of young Americans will end up becoming a lost generation.