Louisiana, Washington, D.C., Arkansas, Alaska Called Worst Places for Youth

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Photo by Matt Baume via Flickr

Youth in America are most at risk of adverse outcomes in adulthood in Louisiana, Washington, D.C., Arkansas, and Alaska, according to a recent study by WalletHub, a personal finance website.

These are the states and cities with “the most idle youth.”

Youth, defined as the population aged 18 to 24, fare the best in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Utah, found the study’s author, Adam McCann, financial writer for WalletHub and vice president of analytics at KeyMe.

The author reached these conclusions by comparing the 50 states and Washington, D.C. across 16 indicators of youth risk.

Some indicators — including the percentage of youth who are not attending school and not working, the youth poverty rate, and the rate of youth who are incarcerated or placed in residential facilities — focused on education and employment outcomes.

Other indicators — such as the percentage of youth that are overweight and obese, the share of youth using illicit drugs in the past 30 days, and the rate of depression among youth — measured health outcomes.

Indicators for many states were inconsistent. For example, New York ranked 33rd in the share of youth without a high school diploma and 39th in the percentage of overweight and abuse youth, but second in the youth labor force participation rate and eighth in the share of homeless youth.

A higher ranking indicates that youth are more at risk for that particular adverse outcome.

The release of this study is timely given the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The author explained that “the environment is even more difficult for these young Americans in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt the job market, caused schools to be held online and kept people far more isolated than usual.”

For this reason, McCann implied, COVID-19 may exacerbate already poor educational, employment, and health outcomes in some states.

WalletHub’s study of at-risk youth is also timely because a 15-year-old with ADHD in Michigan was incarcerated in May after a judge ruled that not completing her online schoolwork violated her probation, ProPublica Illinois reports.

According to the study, Michigan ranked 21st overall, 33rd in education and employment, and fourth in health.

The findings of this study corroborate those of other research. For example, approximately one in nine individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither attending school nor working, and 70 percent of young adults are ineligible to join the military because they do not meet academic, health, and/or moral requirements.

Additionally, Louisiana’s overall score (66.19), or its weighted average across all metrics, was a full 38 points higher than that of Utah (28.09).

This means that, across several key metrics, adults are significantly affected by arbitrary factors such as where they grew up.

A YouTube video summarizing the study can be found here.

The full study can be accessed here.

This summary was prepared by TCR News Intern Michael Gelb.

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