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Opportunity Youth

Variable Definitions:
Opportunity Youth: The percent of youth ages 16 to 24 who are neither working nor in school

Methodology Note:

The calculation of this dataset requires a multi-step calculation combining ACS demographics data and IPUMS individual-level school/employment data. The full methodology documentation can be found here.

American Community Survey (ACS) and The Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS-USA)

Years Available:


*Note: Each year of available data shown above is a 5-year estimate, or an average of data collected over a five year period. 5-year estimates are used to increase the reliability of the data at small geographies like neighborhoods and census tracts. The years shown on the NDSC map represent the final year of the five year average (e.g. “2010” represents 2006-2010 data, “2011” represents 2007-2011 data, and so on). For the most impactful comparison of data over time, the ACS recommends comparing non-overlapping years (e.g. 2010-14 with 2015-19).

Why are these variables important to measure?

Opportunity Youth

Opportunity youth (also referred to as disconnected youth) are individuals between the age of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school.  Such youth often leave school or work because of healthcare issues, pregnancy, the need to take care of younger siblings or caretakers, or because they are struggling and disconnected in school.

According to a report by Drexel University, it is particularly important for people in this age group to be working or in school because it is a critical time for developing knowledge, credentials, social skills, networks, emotional regulation and stress coping mechanisms that are important for building a successful career and good life. A report by Measure of America underscored the importance of the role of school and employment for young people: “At school and on the job, connected young people set goals and lay the groundwork to realize them. Out-of-school, out-of-work youth also have dreams and aspirations but have far less support to make them a reality.” 

Lewis, Kristen. (2021) “Building Bright Futures for Youth in Los Angeles: Spotlight on Young Women.” Measure of America. Link.

Fogg, Neeta, and Paul Harrington. “The Human Capital Investment Gap: Understanding the Diminished Prospects of Disconnected Youth in Los Angeles.” Drexel University Center for Labor Markets and Policy (2016). Link.

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