A Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation said 51 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds in Mississippi had jobs in 2011. That's the lowest employment rate in the U.S. The national average for the age group was 61 percent.
The study discusses "disconnected youth," or people aged 16 and 24 who were neither employed nor in school.
Mississippi's employment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds was 23 percent — lower than the 26 percent national average but not the lowest in the nation.
Children who grow up in poverty are less likely to have personal connections or go through mentoring that could help them find jobs, said Mississippi Kids Count director Linda Southward.
Mississippi has long been one of the poorest states in the nation. It also has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates and an "alarming number of kids who are not completing high school on time," Southward said.
"We really do need to have a two-generation strategy to make any systemic life changing or generation changing outcomes in Mississippi," said Southward, who's also a professor at Mississippi State University's Social Science Research Center.
The study, released Monday, is called "Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity."
It said that employment among young people was at its lowest level since World War II. Almost 6.5 million 16- to 24-year-olds were not in school and didn't have jobs in 2011. About 77,000 were in Mississippi.