More than 119,000, or about 19%, of young people in Connecticut between the ages of 14 and 26 were “at risk” or “disconnected” in 2021-22, according to a new Dalio Education report released Wednesday morning.
The report, which compiled data from the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, Department of Children and Families, Department of Labor, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the state Department of Education, concluded that more than 63,000 young adults were disconnected and 56,000 students were at risk between 2021 and 2022.
“Disconnected” was defined as high school graduates who were neither employed nor enrolled in higher education, high school non-graduates who were employed, young adults who had neither a high school diploma nor employment, and incarcerated individuals in that age group.
Disconnected and at-risk students were mainly concentrated in Connecticut’s largest cities, including Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury, Stamford, Danbury, Norwalk and New Britain, totaling about 21,640 young people on average through the last five years.
“These cities, among Connecticut’s 169 municipalities, constitute 40% of all at-risk and 36% of all disconnected young people in the state,” the report said, adding that rural parts of the state are also seeing higher concentrations of struggling youth. “Small towns of Sterling, Sprague and Salisbury have disconnection rates of 30%, 28% and 34% respectively.”
The report ties the outcomes for these young people to the state's finances and job market. It estimates that by getting all of those youths "back on track," Connecticut would spend less on social services and bring in more in taxes — an estimated net benefit of some $650 million.
“Supporting disconnected young people to get back on track could help fill a large portion of the Connecticut labor market’s 90,000 unfilled jobs and boost Connecticut’s [Gross Domestic Product] by $5 billion — $5.5 billion,” the report states. “Our analysis suggests that getting today’s 63,000 disconnected young people back on track could also boost Connecticut’s fiscal performance for an overall annual fiscal impact of $650- $750 million. This includes $300-350 million in additional tax revenue … [and] $350-400 million lower spending on government services, driven by reconnected young people utilizing fewer social safety net services.”