Special Report

Cities With the Most Idle Youth

Railroad park bridge birmingahm
Source: Thinkstock

10. Birmingham-Hoover, AL
> Disconnected youth rate: 10.1%
> Overall unemployment rate: 5.1%
> Median household income: $47,046
> Pct. adults with bachelor’s degree: 28.2%

In Birmingham-Hoover, more than one in 10 residents between the ages of 16 and 24 years old are neither working nor enrolled in school. Disconnected youth tend to be the product of the community’s socioeconomic issues, and overall, Birmingham-Hoover has above average poverty and unemployment rates.

While Birmingham-Hoover’s 19.5% unemployment rate for 16 to 19 year olds is somewhat better than the 22.5% national unemployment rate for the same age cohort, finding employment after high school is more difficult in the city. Nearly one in five 20 to 24 year olds are unable to find work, the fifth highest unemployment rate for the age group in the country.

Stockton-Lodi, California
Source: Thinkstock

9. Stockton-Lodi, CA
> Disconnected youth rate: 10.3%
> Overall unemployment rate: 8.1%
> Median household income: $51,659
> Pct. adults with bachelor’s degree: 18.3%

It is more difficult to find a job in Stockton-Lodi than in nearly any other city in the country. The metro area’s 8.1% unemployment rate is the third highest nationwide, and it is far higher for its younger residents. Those seeking work are likely to be less qualified than applicants in many parts of country. Just 77.6% of adults in the area have at least a high school diploma, and just 18.3% have a bachelor’s degree, each some of the lowest attainment rates of any metro area.

Children raised in Stockton are more likely to miss out on key educational and employment experiences. Of those aged 16 to 24, 10.3% neither work nor are enrolled in enrolled in school..

El Paso, Texas 2
Source: Thinkstock

8. El Paso, TX
> Disconnected youth rate: 10.6%
> Overall unemployment rate: 4.5%
> Median household income: $40,133
> Pct. adults with bachelor’s degree: 21.0%

Just 75.6% of adults in El Paso have at least a high school diploma, one of the lower shares nationwide. Children whose parents did not graduate are themselves less likely to finish high school. This may be one reason why 10.6% of young residents aged 16 to 24 in El Paso are disconnected — neither working nor enrolled in school — one of the larger shares of any metro area.

Latino youth are about three times as likely as white youth to be disconnected. More than four in five El Paso residents is Hispanic, nearly the largest proportion in the country. Hispanic and Latino 16 to 24 year olds make up 84.8% of all El Paso disconnected youth, a larger share than in any metro area than McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, another border town.

Knoxville Skyline
Source: Thinkstock

7. Knoxville, TN
> Disconnected youth rate: 11.1%
> Overall unemployment rate: 3.6%
> Median household income: $45,151
> Pct. adults with bachelor’s degree: 27.6%

More than one in every 10 young Knoxville residents are disconnected — neither working nor in school. Young members of minority groups are more likely to be disconnected than their white counterparts, and in the majority of cities with more disconnected youth, relatively small shares of the population are white. However, 87.3% of Knoxville’s population is white, the highest share in the country among large metropolitan areas.

The situation is even worse for Knoxville’s very young adults, compared to the 20-24 year olds. More than 7% of 16 to 19 year olds are disconnected, the fourth highest share among large metropolitan areas.

lakeland winter haven lazy
Source: Wikimedia Commons

6. Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL
> Disconnected youth rate: 11.4%
> Overall unemployment rate: 5.0%
> Median household income: $42,780
> Pct. adults with bachelor’s degree: 19.7%

Among Lakeland metro area’s young residents, 11.4% are currently unemployed and not receiving an education. Among the 20 to 24 year olds, the situation appears to be even worse, as 15.7% of this age group is disconnected. One likely cause for this problem is the extremely low employment rate in the metro area. Barely 60% of 20 to 24 year olds in Lakeland have a job, and less than 20% of 16 to 19 year olds are employed, each among the lower rates among major metropolitan areas.


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