A sizable minority of America's youth aren't in school or attached to the labor force. And it's costing taxpayers big.
About 17 percent of America's young people are "opportunity youth" -- or people ages 16-24 who aren't attached to the labor force -- according to a report prepared by researchers for the Corporation for National and Community Service and the White House Council for Community Solutions (h/t Think Progress). Each one of these 6.7 million young people is costing taxpayers $13,900 per year and it doesn't stop there. After 25 years old, they'll cost taxpayers $170,740 over their lifetime, the report found.
That means that in total, those currently classified as so-called opportunity youth will cost taxpayers $1.56 trillion in present value terms over their whole lifetime.
"Both taxpayers and society lose out when the potential of these youth is not realized," the report said.
With the unemployment rate at elevated levels for months, young people have been feeling the consequences. Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, found in November that youth joblessness in America was in line with levels of youth unemployment during the Arab Spring.
Teenage job-seekers are having an especially tough time as older, more experienced workers snap up part-time positions usually reserved for teens in a better economy. The unemployment rate for Americans ages 16-19 was 25 percent in 2011 -- nearly three times the jobless rate of the overall labor force. During the summer, a time of typically high employment for youth, the unemployment rate for Americans aged 16 to 24 was twice as high as the national jobless rate.
The high levels of out-of-work young people will likely have long-term implications, including a boost in poverty, increased reliance on social safety net programs and maybe even illegal activities, according to researchers at Rutgers University.
But prospects for unemployed youth may be getting brighter. Nearly two-thirds of the jobs employers added between August and October went to Americans between the ages of 16 and 24.