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State of the South 2014

State of the South 2014

There’s a national conversation happening about the economic mobility of young people—the chances that they’ll be able to improve their economic situation compared to that of their parents. We know that mobility is low in America (see chart below)—43 percent of Americans raised in the bottom income quintile stay there, and another 27 percent only move up one income quintile.

(Click for larger image. Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts report, Pursuing the American Dream)

The problem is particularly severe in the South. Communities know this even before they see the data: too many young people struggle to attain a postsecondary credential and obtain rewarding employment. If we can’t find a way to connect significantly more of our youth and young adults with the types of opportunities that allow them to build an economically secure future for themselves and their families, then our region’s future is in jeopardy.

That’s why the next issue in our The State of the South series will focus on how communities in the region are organizing themselves to create opportunities for young people. We’re kicking off The State of the South 2014 with the first of our nine visits to communities across the South to ask community leaders—governmental, educational, civic, business, and nonprofit, as well as young people themselves—about the challenges they face and the approaches they are taking, and we’re inviting you along to join us as we create our report. Last week, our team was in Port St. Joe, Fla, and once they settle down from their excitement over all the oysters and sunshine, they’re going to post here about their trip and all the good things happening in the Port St. Joe community.

Stay tuned for updates and commentary from the road, as well as some observations on the data and existing research we’re diving into. You can follow along at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The full report will be released this fall, and we’ll be hosting convenings across the South to highlight our findings and build a regional agenda to improve economic mobility and security for young people.

We hope to see you out on the road.