A report commissioned by the White House Council for Community Solutions outlines the economic impact of the approximately 6.7 million 16-24 year olds considered "opportunity youth", those not in school and underemployed. 

"These youth are disproportionately male and from minority groups, but substantial rates are found for all youth groups. Opportunity youth may have dropped out of high school or college and been unable to find work; may have been involved in the criminal justice system; may have mental or health conditions that have inhibited their activities; or may have care-giving responsibilities in their families. Some opportunity youth are ‘chronic’: they have never been in school or work after the age of 16. Others are ‘under-attached’: despite some schooling and some work experience beyond 16, these youth have not progressed through college or secured a stable attachment to the labor market. We estimate a chronic opportunity youth population of 3.4 million and an under-attached opportunity youth population of 3.3 million. Both groups are failing to build an economic foundation for adult independence."

The report details the economic burden of opportunity youth including lost earnings, lost tax payments, crime, health costs, welfare support payments, and other losses in productivity and economic growth. In 2011 dollars, the report estimates that:

Each opportunity youth imposes a social burden of $51,350 per year they are disconnected and after each opportunity youth reaches 25, he or she will subsequently impose a future lifetime burden of $699,770.

These estimates support the compelling economic and social argument for workforce and educational supports for struggling young people. For more information on the cost calculations and the barriers that put these youth at risk, see  The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth



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