Disconnected youth in Louisville, KY numbers rise with COVID-19

Youth disconnection rates have risen for the first time since 2010, in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Three years ago, Jefferson County had a $15 billion problem: About 17,000 young people in the city were out of school or work — essentially “disconnected.” 

A 2019 multipart Courier Journal investigation revealed Louisville officials had no coordinated plan for supporting these young people, known as “disconnected youth,” though advocates prefer “opportunity youth.”

Since that 2019 series published, there have been massive changes in Louisville to reconnect these young people, ages 16 to 24, with opportunities.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted these efforts, causing many assistance agencies to either temporarily shut down or move to a virtual option. 

Before the pandemic, the U.S. youth disconnection rate was 10.6%. Now, it’s back up to 12.6% according to the Measure of America 2022 report, which was based on data from 2020. Louisville’s youth disconnection rate is higher than the average, at 13.4%.

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