CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The number of West Virginia teens and young adults who are unemployed and aren't in school is rising, according to a report released Monday.
The KIDS COUNT report says 40 percent of West Virginians ages 16 to 24 held a job in 2011 - down from 53 percent in 2000. That means there were about 56,000 teens and young adults in the state who were neither in school nor at work.
By comparison, about 50 percent of young people nationally were employed in 2011, compared to 60 percent in 2000.
According to the report, these young people face growing competition from older workers for entry-level jobs. They also don't have the skills required for available well-paying jobs.
The report recommends developing a national youth employment strategy, employer-sponsored earn-and-learn programs, and aligning resources to create collaborative efforts to support youth.
Young people are missing the chance to increase their job readiness by not holding "starter jobs," the report said.
"All young people need opportunities to gain work experience and build the skills that are essential to being successful as an adult," Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the foundation, said in a news release. "Ensuring youth are prepared for the high-skilled jobs available in today's economy must be a national priority, for the sake of their future roles as citizens and parents, the future of our work force and the strength of our nation as a whole."
The report also found that more than 20 percent, or 1.4 million of the unemployed youths, had children of their own.