Young Invincibles and Demos partnered to complete The State Of Young America report, the first comprehensive look at the economic challenges facing young adults since the Great Recession.  In addition, we conducted a groundbreaking poll with Lake Research Partners and Bellweather Research & Consulting of 872 young adults (18-34).


  • Unemployment rates: have hit young African Americans particularly hard. One out of 4 African American women and 1 out of 3 African American men ages 18-24 are unemployed.
  • Career paths: Among young African Americans, 66% who are employed say that their job is not within their chosen field or profession, compared to 53% of Latinos and 40% of whites.
  • No paid leave: 52% of young African Americans went to work sick because they could not afford to lose pay, compared to 44% of Latinos and 38% of whites.


Persistent Wage Gaps & Unemployment

  • Young African Americans earn only 75 cents for every dollar earned by whites.
  • Joblessness declines for those in their mid-twenties and early thirties, though both African Americans and Latinos continue to experience double-digit rates of unemployment (See Table).


The gap in college completion has widened by race since 1980, though all groups have higher percentages of 4-year degrees.

  • Just 39% of African American bachelor’s candidates completed a bachelor’s degree within 6 years.
  • The percentage of young African Americans with a bachelor’s degree grew from 12% in 1980 to 21% in 2011.
  • African Americans and Latinos comprise 28% of all undergraduates, but make up nearly half (46%) of undergraduates in the for-profit sector.

Disproportionate Incarceration Rates

Incarceration rates for young people are staggering, particularly for young males of color, who make up a disproportionate share of prisoners.  The young adults that get released after serving their time face even steeper odds of finding any financial security.

  • 1 in 9 African American males aged 25-29 was in prison or jail in 2009, compared to 1 in 27 Latino males and 1 in 60 white males in the same age group, according to the Sentencing Project.
  • According to one Urban Institute study that tracked men as they were released from prison, just 46% of ex-offenders were employed 7 months after being released from prison.

Health Care

Young minorities are disproportionately likely to lack health care.

  • 51.7% of Latinos and 33.8% of African Americans ages 24-35 were uninsured in 2009, compared to 20.8% of whites the same age.


  • Tough times: More than half of African American young adults are frustrated with their personal financial situation. 55% of African Americans and say their finances are just fair or poor.
  • College Affordability: 98% of young African Americans say that making a college education more affordable should be a top priority or priority of Congress.