With nearly 13% of young Americans neither working nor in school, exposing them to greater risk of poverty and violence, the personal finance website WalletHub has released its report on “2022’s States with the Most At-Risk Youth.”

What metrics were used to determine the findings?

WalletHub compared all 50 states plus Washington D.C. across 16 key indicators of youth risk, said analyst Jill Gonzalez.

That data ranges from the share of disconnected youth to the labor force participation rate among youth to the youth poverty rate.

Where does New Jersey rank?

New Jersey did very well in this report, ranking in the bottom five, where being at the bottom is a good thing this time around, Gonzalez said.

New Jersey is the 4th least at-risk youth state in the nation.

In what categories does New Jersey score well?

She said the state scores well across the board. The high school diploma rate is very high in New Jersey. The rate of teen pregnancy rate as well as the youth poverty rate.
There is not a lot of disconnected youth in New Jersey. “That means the population age 18 to 24 are either attending school, or are working, or at least have a degree beyond a high school diploma,” Gonzalez said.

In terms of health, the share of youth using illicit drugs in the past month in New Jersey is low, as well as reports of heavy drinking and reports of depression. Vaccination rates are high among the youth in the Garden State. Overweight and obese youth rates are low, as well, she added.

Does New Jersey need any improvement?

While New Jersey fared well in many categories, Gonzalez said it could do better when it comes to the presence of state tuition waiver programs or scholarship programs for youth, specifically in foster care.

New Jersey’s neighbors did not do badly on the list. Gonzalez said Pennsylvania ranked 38th and New York ranked 39th.

The most at-risk youth state in the U.S. is Louisiana. Mississippi is second followed by Alabama, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Regionally, the Northeast fared quite well. Massachusetts is the least at-risk youth state followed by Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Maryland.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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