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. 

Click "Change Filter" in the above chart to view data prior to 2012.


Disconnected youth
 in Clark County in 2016


Disconnected youth
in Nevada in 2016


Disconnected youth
in the U.S. in 2016

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 three consecutive years, from 19 percent in 2013 to 16 percent in 2016. This translates to approximately 6,000 less young people in our region cut off from opportunity. 

But challenges remain: More than 38,000 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 more than 35 percent (and more than 4 percent points) higher than the national average. 

Nationally, the percentage of disconnected youth has dropped 21 percent in the aftermath of the Great Recession, which translates to roughly 1.2 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 4.6 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 Latin0 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 is much higher than in urban and suburban areas, and states, cities, and rural counties in the South tend to have higher rates than those in the North.

Disconnected youth in the U.S. by county (2016)

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

About the data

Youth disconnection is an indicator for Measure of America's Opportunity Index, which is designed to provide a snapshot of what opportunity looks like at the state and county levels. The index focuses on the conditions present in different communities and is designed to help localities connect economic, academic, health, civic and other factors that support increased opportunity and economic mobility.

Since Measure of America first wrote about and began analyzing youth disconnection half a decade ago, public awareness of both the plight and the promise of young people who are not in either school or the workforce has grown. Measure of America has produced five national-level reports on youth disconnection, most recently in March 2018, and an interactive data tool.

The youth disconnection rates above are Measure of America calculations of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey. Some custom tabulations for county and county equivalents provided by special arrangement with the U.S. Census Bureau. Read Measure of America's the full methodological note here.

To learn more about disconnected youth in Southern Nevada or for additional information on the data presented above, contact Southern Nevada Strong.

Last updated: March 2019