One in seven people between the ages of 16-24 are not in school or working, a new report finds, and it cost taxpayers $93.7 billion in government support and lost tax revenue in 2011 alone.
Measure of America, an initiative of the Social Science Research Council, released a report last week titled "One In Seven: Ranking Youth Disconnection in the 25 Largest Metro Areas." The report found 5.8 million young people fall into this "disconnected youth" category nationwide. The rate is even higher for the black community, where 22.5 percent of young African-Americans are out of school and not working, nearly twice the national average.
"Disconnection can affect everything from earnings and financial independence to physical and mental health, and even marital prospects," Sarah Burd-Sharps, co-author of the study, said in a statement.
The solution doesn't necessarily lie in shoving everyone into a four-year university. There are other avenues to pursue as well, the report's co-author Kristen Lewis argued.
“In the next five years, more than 29 million job openings will need to be filled by workers with some college or a certificate, but not necessarily a four-year degree.” Lewis said. "In today's economy, everyone needs some education beyond high school, but as a society, we need to rethink the ‘college-for-all’ mantra that devalues and stigmatizes career and technical education. Instead, we should provide robust pathways to postsecondary certificates or associate degree programs for those who choose this route."
Lewis noted many of them drop out of school because they don't see the point of it, and didn't believe it'd help them get a job.
Education Week points out Phoenix had the highest rate of disconnection at 19 percent, while Boston had the lowest, with 9 percent.
The report recommends increasing preschool opportunities for 3 and 4 year-olds. Research shows preschool attendance increases the likelihood of children graduating high school.