Millions of Under-educated, Under-employed Youth Costing Taxpayers, Study Finds

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A growing segment of today’s youth are undereducated, underemployed and failing to build a solid economic foundation for their future, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Labor. These so-called opportunity youth are more likely to require government services, report worse health status and are more likely to be involved in criminal activity, the study found.

Within the 16-24 age group, the study found at least 6.7 million (17 percent) could be classified as opportunity youth. Many have dropped out of high school or college and have been unable to find work.

According to the report, opportunity youth represent a significant burden to taxpayers. For each 16-year-old opportunity youth taxpayers will spend $13,900 annually. By the time they are adults — the study calculated up to age 64 — each of those youth will have cost taxpayers more than $148,000. Over their lifetime, each opportunity youth will have cost taxpayers more than $250,000.

Together, one cohort of opportunity youth, meaning the total opportunity youth created in one calendar year, will cost taxpayers $1.56 trillion dollars.

The study’s authors call for a greater investment in education, better training and social supports to help make these youth full members of the economy.

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