Millions of youth forgotten amid pandemic
The catastrophic effects of the pandemic are reversing progress for "opportunity youth"
As Congress debates its next steps to save and rebuild the economy, it would be wise to remember the nearly 5 million “Opportunity Youth”—young adults aged 16 to 24 who aren’t in school or employed, but were overcoming great odds to improve their lives before the pandemic hit.
It is common for people to discount opportunity youth because some were recently homeless or involved in the juvenile justice or child welfare systems. But, as former domestic policy advisors to two presidents—one Democrat, one Republican—we work with many of them, side-by-side; recognize their potential, goals, and contributions; and know a full recovery from this crisis will not occur without them. Opportunity youth play an increasingly critical role in our communities and our economy.
The pandemic has ushered in unprecedented unemployment among young people in America. Nearly 8 million workers under the age of 30 are unemployed. Three million dropped out of the workforce between mid-April and mid-May. Blacks and Latinos have been hit harder than other racial groups.