Nearly 6 million young Americans aren't in school and aren't employed, but Minnesota is among the most supportive states for youth, according to a study released Monday by the Opportunity Nation.
According to the study, nearly 15 percent of people ages 16 to 24 aren't studying or working, and the findings suggest an increase in poverty and lower household incomes could be reasons.
Many high school drop-outs are not engaged in other school systems, and many college graduates aged 22-24 are out of work because of the current job climate, which pits them against laid-off workers with more experience.
"I'm a teaching major, so jobs are hard to come by," Kyle Symanski, a senior at the University of Minnesota, told Fox 9 News.
It may seem like a simple formula: Go to college, graduate and get a job. These days, however, it's not that easy.
"I can't afford grad school, and it doesn't look like I'm going to get a job -- so, great news!" Symanski quipped.
Don Walker, who works with Ramsey County youth who have dropped out of school, described the study's findings as "alarming," but added that "it's no surprise."
Each day, he looks around the WorkForce Center and helps those looking for jobs. As he does, he tries to remind young people that school is a key component to success.
"The youth need to be educated," Walker said. "[A lack of education] will hinder them as far as being competitive in the job market."
College Possible is an organization that helps low-income high school students get into college, and Associate Director Bethany Krueger says the doors are definitely open to everyone and the benefits are clear.
"If you earn a college degree, students are forecasted to make $1 million more in their lifetime," she said.
Yet, while some may say a no-job and no-school reflects a lazy and unmotivated attitude, experts also say that the oversaturated job market has made many wonder if the cost of college is worth it, especially since so many graduates are unemployed.
"I have a math degree and I know for a fact I've worked for it, but it's hard to hire someone with no experience," Symanski said.
The Opportunity Index tracks 16 factors, including Internet access, preschool attendance, college graduation rates, household income and spending, volunteerism and crime rates.
The states where young people can thrive most effectively are Vermont, Minnesota and North Dakota. Nevada, Mississippi and New Mexico came in last.
The Index features three categories: Economy, education and community health/civic life. Compared to the national average, Minnesota is slightly below average in preschool attendance, but far exceeds on-time high school graduation at a rate of 88.2 percent compared to the nation's 78.2 percent. In addition, 42.7 percent of adults 25 and older in Minnesota have an completed an associate degree or higher, while on average, just 36.3 percent of Americans ages 25 and older can say the same.
In terms of civic participation, 45.9 percent of adults 18 and older in Minnesota are involved in social, civil, sports or religious groups, more than 10 points above the 35.6 percent estimated nationwide.
Minnesota also tops the nation in volunteerism, as 36.7 percent of adults 18 or older participated in volunteer work sometime in the past year compared to 26.5 percent nationwide.
See how Minnesota stacks up: http://opportunityindex.org/#5.00/46.73/-94.686/-/Minnesota
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.