By Beau Yarbrough, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 10/29/13, 8:41 PM PDT |

Nearly 1 in 5 young people between ages 16 and 24 in the Inland Empire are neither working nor in school, the nation’s worst rate, according to a report released Tuesday.

The report, “Halve the Gap by 2030: Youth Disconnection in America’s Cities,” by Measure of America, found that the region’s “youth-disconnection” rate — a measure of how many young people are not engaged with school or work — surpassed other large metro areas across the nation, and looked at its economic consequences.

“It’s a really distressing phenomenon, because when other young people are laying the groundwork for a productive life … these young people are unmoored,” said Kristen Lewis, co-director of Measure of America and co-author of the study, which is a project of the Brooklyn-based Social Science Research Council.

In the Inland Empire, 18.8 percent of San Bernardino-Riverside county youths are not working according to the study. At nearly 1 in 5 youths, that compared to about 1 in 7 who are unemployed and not in school nationwide.

A third of the disconnected are college dropouts and another third are young mothers, according to the report, which is based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey.

“They’re not only not generating tax revenue, they’re costing much more in terms of the social services they need,” Lewis said. “They’re more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system.”

According to the report, the average disconnected youth costs $37,450 annually in government services. Last year, their total economic cost was $930 billion in government services and uncollected taxes.

“The thing about youth disconnection is that it has this kind of scarring, lasting effect, because your wages are reduced for the rest of your life, since you’re put on this lower-trajectory path,” Lewis said.

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