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Junior Achievement Releases Study that Examines How “Disconnected Youth” Changed between 1970 and 2017

Study Conducted by Population Reference Bureau for Junior Achievement

A new study for Junior Achievement USA by the Washington, DC-based Population Reference Bureau shows changes from 1970 to 2017 in the characteristics of "disconnected youth," young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not employed nor enrolled in school. The study, which uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that the percentage of females who are considered "disconnected" fell dramatically during the past nearly five decades while the percentage of disconnected males has risen slightly over time. A final report on the study can be found here.

Findings of the study include:

  • In 1970, 28 percent of females between the ages of 16 and 24 were "disconnected." In 2017, that share had dropped to 11 percent.
  • In 1970, 9 percent of males ages 16 to 24 were "disconnected." In 2017, that share had risen to 12 percent.
  • During the Great Recession, the percentage of youth ages 16 to 24 who were disconnected rose from 12 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2009 for males, and from 13 percent to 14 percent for females.
  • Between 1970 and 2017, the share of youth ages 16 to 24 living below the poverty line who were disconnected dropped from 30 percent to 20 percent. Among youth living at or above the poverty line, the share who were disconnected fell from 18 percent to 10 percent during the same period.
  • In 2008 (the earliest year of data available), 31 percent of youth ages 16 to 24 with a disability were disconnected. In 2017, that share was virtually unchanged at 30 percent.
  • Disconnection rates have declined considerably for Hispanic youth (23 percent in 2000 to 13 percent in 2017) and non-Hispanic black youth (23 percent in 2000 to 18 percent in 2017), but not substantially for non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native youth (25 percent in 2000 to 24 percent in 2017) nor for non-Hispanic white youth (10 percent in 2000 to 9 percent in 2017). In 2017, minority youth continued to make up a disproportionate share of all disconnected youth.
  • Those without a high school diploma have a disconnection rate in early adulthood more than 6 times the rate of those with a bachelor's degree, while those with a high school education have a rate nearly 4 times higher than those with a college degree.

"This study shows that while there has been a great deal of progress made over the past five decades in reducing disconnection rates with female, Hispanic and African-American youth, in particular, much more needs to be done," said Jack Kosakowski, President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. "One of the conclusions that can be drawn from this research is that there is a direct connection between education early in life and the ability to fully participate through employment and post-secondary education later in life. It's important that we work with our young people today to help them understand the importance of education and the empowering aspects of work. We at Junior Achievement will certainly refer to these findings as we develop our programs focused on career readiness."

Media Contacts:

Ed Grocholski
Junior Achievement USA

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