Number of 'disconnected youth' on the rise

More than 6.5 million American young people are what is known as "disconnected."

More than 6.5 million American young people are what is known as "disconnected."  In other words, they're not in school and they don't have jobs. That's according to a new report out from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Patrick McCarthy is the foundation's president. And he says the number of entry-level jobs has shrunk over the last two decades, and if young people drop out of school, it hurts their chances of getting a job even more.

"The disconnected youth are at very high risk of being poor, very high risk of not having the skills they need to connect to the workforce," he said.

Stacey Stewart is the president of United Way. She says despite the number of "disconnected youth," it's not too late to do something. A solution, she says, is more collaboration between business, government, and nonprofit groups like hers.  

"Just because young people are disconnected from school and employment right now does not mean that we can't provide them with opportunities to get back on track," she said.

Jovan Howard grew up in Baltimore in the city's foster care system, and he says he easily could have become disconnected if he hadn't given school a second chance.

"I didn't really realize that school was a big factor in my life until I want to say the tenth grade when I realized that I can end up being somebody."

Howard graduated.  He went on to college... and now, he's got a job. 

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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