Changing the Trajectory of Impoverished Youth: Plugging Disconnected Youth Back into the Labor Market

Sep 25, 2012

by Linda Harris

This piece originally appeared on CLASP-run Spotlight on Poverty

Increasing attention has been paid to the growing ranks of America's youth who are disconnected from school and work, and who face endemic challenges to accessing opportunity. Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity recently asked several experts to address the challenge of "disconnected youth" and what we can do about it. Read what they had to say here.

These are brutal times for youth in the labor market with employment rates at the lowest level in more than 60 years. For youth from high-poverty households in low-income communities these times may unfortunately set the trajectory for a future of struggle and economic peril.

We know that youth from low-income households are five times more likely to drop out of school than those from more affluent households. In August 2012, only 38.9 percent of youth ages 16 to 24 (24.8 percent of black youth) who dropped out of school were employed.

Such a high degree of joblessness and idleness does not bode well for their long term economic success or family stability. With so few pathways available for these youth to gain the education and skills necessary to connect to the labor market mainstream they are all too likely to head the next generation of high-poverty households a decade from now. 

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