The Problem of Disconnection

By Richard Florida, from The Atlantic, where you can read the full article:

More than one in seven young Americans are “disconnected” from work and from school, according to a report released Thursday by the Social Science Research Council‘s Measure of America project.

The report (PDF) is based on data from the U.S. Census and American Community Survey, and looks specifically at the numbers of young people aged 16 to 24 who are not working nor enrolled in school. The report tracked the data for the U.S. as a whole, in comparison to other countries, by race, and for the 25 largest metro areas as well as neighborhoods within cities.

Nationally, over 5.8 million young people (almost 15 percent) are disconnected — a figure that grew by 800,000 as a result of the economic crisis, according to the report.

Globally, the U.S. has a higher rate of youth disconnection than many advanced nations, including the United Kingdom (13.4 percent), Austria (11.4 percent), Canada (10.5 percent), Germany (9.5 percent), Norway (9.2 percent), Finland (8.6 percent), Switzerland (6.8 percent), Denmark (5.7 percent), and the Netherlands (4.1 percent).

Youth disconnection varies substantially by race. More than one in five (22.5 percent) young African-Americans are disconnected, 18.5 percent of Latinos, 11.7 percent of whites, and just 8 percent of Asian-Americans.

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  • AJG

    Having so many restless, young men with nothing to do is a recipe for widespread social unrest. I don’t know what the answer is (or even if there is one), but this is not good.

  • Chris Jefferies

    The answer is undoubtedly community in some shape or form. The natural forms of community for young people are family and peer groups sharing common interests. If these interests centre on hanging around with nothing to do the results are likely to be less than ideal. But this is not an insoluble issue.

    The church should be a community that engages with the needs of those around it. Helping the sick and the needy, visiting the lonely and those in prison, gardening and cleaning and decorating for the elderly, keeping the neighbourhood clean and tidy are all things that young people can get involved in. And they can have fun and meet new people at the same time.

    And it’s not only young people who may need help finding the places where they can make a real difference. We all sometimes need others to point out opportunities we might otherwise miss.

    The church should have a place and a purpose in all of this. What is it? And how can we work towards it? What did Jesus have to say about people’s needs and our place in meeting them? I’m not necessarily thinking of church ‘projects’, though these have their place. I’m thinking of individuals and small groups asking themselves, ‘What can I do to make a difference?’

    As ambassadors and servants of the King, we can make a considerable difference – probably more than we might imagine.