Civic Engagement

Disconnected Youth

A fundamental indicator of societal progress and well-being is how young people fair in their transition to adulthood. Disconnected youth are teenagers and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school. Disconnected youth is an indicator most correlated with a region's Opportunity Score, a composite measure of economic, educational, and civic factors that expand opportunity. 

Source: Opportunity Index (developed by Measure of America and Opportunity Nation)

14.4%

Disconnected Youth
 in Clark County in 2018

13.8%

Disconnected Youth
in Nevada in 2018

11.2%

Disconnected Youth
in the U.S. in 2018

Percentage of disconnected youth improving in Southern Nevada, but remains above national rates

Fewer young people are disconnected from school and work in Southern Nevada today than were before the Great Recession. The rate has dropped five consecutive years, from 18.8 percent in 2013 to 14.4 percent in 2018, according to the most recently update data. This translates to approximately 10,000 less young people in our region cut off from opportunity. 

But challenges remain: More than 34,000 young women and men in Southern Nevada are still disconnected from the educational and employment opportunities. And while the proportion of disconnected youth in the region has been on the decline, Southern Nevada's rate remains nearly 25 percent (and more than 3 percentage points) higher than the national average. 

Nationally, the percentage of disconnected youth has dropped nearly 24 percent in the aftermath of the Great Recession, which translates to roughly 1.5 million fewer young people cut off from pathways that lead to independent, rewarding adulthoods. In 2016, for the first time in the history of the Opportunity Index, the number of disconnected youth dropped below 5 million nationally. 

However, there are still 4.35 million disconnected youth in the U.S., or about one-in-nine teens and young adults. And the gaps between racial and ethnic groups remain large: Native American, Black, and Latinx young people face higher disconnection rates than whites and Asians at every income level (see chart at right).

Place matters, too: the average disconnection rate in rural areas (18.7 percent) is much higher than in urban (12.3 percent) and suburban (10.8 percent) areas. And states, cities, and rural counties in the southern United States tend to have higher rates than those in other regions of the country.

Disconnected youth in the U.S. by race/ethnicity

Disconnected Youth in the U.S. by County (2018)

Click here to view an interactive version of the map above.