A Decade Undone: Youth Disconnection in the Age of Coronavirus

The Covid-19 pandemic will cause youth disconnection rates to spike dramatically. We estimate that the number of disconnected youth … could swell to almost one-quarter of all young people.

Kristen Lewis, Measure of America, June 2020

Skilled, credentialed, healthy, and engaged young people are essential to our community. However, a national report issued this week by Measure of America reports Louisville/Jefferson Co, KY-IN is 79th among the 100 largest cities in the US in the percentage of youth and young adults who are disconnected, out of school and work due to structural racism, poverty, homelessness, educational disruption, childhood trauma, and related challenges

In the 2019 Measure of America report, Louisville was 71of 100 and was the metro area with the largest racial or ethnic gap for disconnected youth with a black-white gap of 17.6 percentage points.

According to the analysis of Census data by Measure of America, this means approximately 17,100 (12.5%) of all 16- to 24-year-olds in Louisville Metro are considered neither in school nor working because of challenges they face. Additionally, more than 9,800 18 to 24-year olds in Louisville lack a high school diploma. These disruptions in education and employment overshadow the opportunities young people have to learn, to become financially independent, and to fully participate in our community.

The economic, health, and social crises in Louisville and across the US will increase the number of disconnected youth in our community. Overall, young people are more likely to have been working in COVID-affected service and retail sectors and account for nearly half of all workers paid minimum wages or less. They are less likely to have access to health insurance, paid sick leave, or savings to endure a recession. One in five young people in Louisville experienced poverty growing up and now report their incomes provide essential or the only support to the household.

Education and related supports that would be available in other economic crises are now severely disrupted. Students who struggled in high school are cut off not just from learning, encouragement, and social interaction but also disability services, meals, health care, psychological support, and a safe place to spend the day. The number of young people who will not return to school in the fall is unknown but expected to increase to unprecedented levels.

Read the full report from Measure of America

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