Among Minorities, a New Wave of ‘Disconnected Youth’

Men and women in their late teens and early 20s are struggling, but some are especially hard hit.

According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, the unemployment rate last year among high-school dropouts between ages 16 and 24 was 29%—up from 17.7% in 2000 and seven points higher than that of their peers who finished high school but didn’t go on to college.

The problem is particularly acute among Hispanics and African-Americans. Several studies have found that only about 50% of black and Hispanic students graduate from high school, compared with 75% of white students.

Up to 40% of the young people in these communities qualify as “disconnected youth,” the term for young adults who are neither in school nor working, says David Dodson, president of MDC Inc., a research organization in Durham, N.C.

“They’ve given up hope,” says Phillip Jackson, executive director of Chicago’s Black Star Project, which helps African-American youth stay in school. He estimates that 75% to 80% of the young black men in Chicago are jobless. (Read more.)

Via Lauren Weber, Wall Street Journal

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Generation Jobless: Young Men Suffer Worst as Economy Staggers

Few groups were hit harder by the recession than young men, like Cody Preston and Justin Randol, 25-year-old high-school buddies who didn’t go to college.

The unemployment rate for males between 25 and 34 years old with high-school diplomas is 14.4%—up from 6.1% before the downturn four years ago and far above today’s 9% national rate. The picture is even more bleak for slightly younger men: 22.4% for high-school graduates 20 to 24 years old. That’s up from 10.4% four years ago.

In contrast to those men, Messrs. Preston and Randol are old enough to have had some time in the job market. They worked together installing granite counters before the housing bust.

Mr. Preston married his girlfriend and settled into what he assumed would be a secure pattern of long hours on job sites and enough cash to travel and enjoy restaurants and bars. Mr. Randol at one point felt flush enough to buy a 63-inch television set and a 50-gallon fish tank for his apartment.

Then the recession hit. Neither man has found steady work since that pays as much as he earned before. Mr. Preston’s marriage broke up and he moved back in with his parents, an increasingly common pattern for jobless young men. Mr. Randol has made do with help from girlfriends and by living in houses packed with roommates to keep the rent low.

For such men, high unemployment is eroding their sense of economic independence. Their predicament reflects that of a generation of Americans facing one of the weakest job markets in modern history. (Read more.)

Via Conor Dougherty, Wall Street Journal

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