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Community Development Publications

Opportunity Youth in Texas

Identifying and Reengaging the State’s Disconnected Young People
Opportunity Youth in Texas


  • For purposes of this report, opportunity youth are 16–24-year-olds who are neither in school nor in working (both unemployed youth and those not in the labor force).
  • We used Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) data from the 2017 5-year American Community Survey (ACS), conducted by the Census Bureau.
  • While both the ACS and the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) can be used to count opportunity youth, they count certain populations differently:[12]
    • The ACS defines students as those who have attended school or college in the past three months, while the CPS counts those who attended in the week prior to the survey.
    • The ACS includes youth living in “group quarters,” such as correctional facilities, college dorm rooms, residential health facilities, etc.; the CPS does not survey these individuals.
    • The ACS surveys those who are serving in the military and categorizes them as “connected” youth since they are seen as employed; the CPS does not survey military members.
    • The ACS surveys homeless youth, while the CPS does not; however, the numbers of homeless youth are likely to be undercounted given the difficulty in surveying these individuals.
  • The CPS goes back further in time than the ACS; it is therefore helpful when looking at historical data.
  • The ACS has a much larger sample size than the CPS and can disaggregate data down to the county level and smaller; it can also disaggregate by race, ethnicity and gender.
  • Some organizations further narrow their definition of “opportunity youth.”
    • The Brookings Institution uses the same definition as the authors of this paper but counts only those living below 200 percent of the federal poverty line and those with less than an associate degree, resulting in a smaller count.
    • The Congressional Research Service uses the same definition as the authors of this paper but includes only those who have not worked within one year (rather than the past week) as unemployed and therefore disconnected.

This report compares Hispanic, non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black and other non-Hispanic populations. “Other” is a broad category that includes Asians, Native Americans, Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.