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Where are the disconnected youth?

The FRED map above shows the proportion of disconnected youth in each U.S. county in 2020. Disconnected youth are not teenagers who’ve been grounded without internet privileges. They’re between the ages of 16 and 19, they’re not enrolled in school, and they’re unemployed or not in the labor force. These youth are typically thought to be at risk of future low income or even crime. So it’s important to try to learn something about them, such as how many there are and where they are.

Darker greens show larger proportions, but not necessarily larger concentrations. Remember that the size of a county is reflective of its land mass, not necessarily its population. In fact, large counties are typically the least-populated ones. For this reason it can be difficult to draw big conclusions from a map, but we can find some insights by comparing maps. Below, we show the same map with data from 11 years ago. (An earlier post compared similar data from 2010 and 2015.)

What’s remarkable when comparing these two maps is that they look quite alike. Darker counties in one are typically also darker in the other. Understand that the two maps do not look at the same people. The 16- to 19-year-olds in 2009 are 27- to 30-year-olds in 2020, and thus not part of the statistic. (Strictly speaking, this calculation is not that simple, as the statistics draw on 5-year averages, but the separation of cohorts still holds). This shows that there is high regional persistence for this kind of issue.

How these maps were created: Search FRED for “disconnected youth,” click on any county data, then click on the map button. Change years using the date picker.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

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