CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
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Youth Demographics

On this page:

Youth Population by the Numbers | Racial & Ethnic Make-up of Youth in US | College Students | Unemployment

Young people come to politics from a wide variety of experiences. They are diverse in terms of racial and ethnic backgrounds, educational experience, and work situation. The following is a brief summary of key facts about young people: who they are, where they live, and what they are currently doing in life.


  • There are 46 million young people under 30 who are eligible to vote in the 2012 election[1]
  • There are 17 million eligible young voters between 18-21 years old[2]
  • Youth (18-29) make up 21.3% of the eligible voter population in 2012
  • New eligible voters (18-21) make up 7.5% of the eligible voting population

States with the highest percentage of eligible young voters (18-29)

  • Utah (27.8%)
  • Washington, DC (26.2%)
  • California (23.5%)
  • Arkansas (23.2%)
  • Texas (23.10%)

States with highest percentage of NEW eligible voters (18-21)

  • Massachusetts (9.5%)
  • California (9.0%)
  • Utah (8.9%)
  • New Jersey (8.8%)
  • Nebraska (8.6%)

For more information on youth voting in a particular state, see the map on CIRCLE’s homepage.

  • There are 11 million 18-24 year old eligible college student voters
  • 18-24 year old college students make up approximately 24.4% of all eligible young voters.

  • In March 2012 12.6% of 18-29 eligible voters were unemployed compared to 6.7% of eligible voters over 30.[3]
  • Unemployment was significantly higher among young eligible voters without college experience (20.1%) than among young eligible voters with college experience (8.1%).
  • The difference in unemployment rates between 18-29 year olds and those over 30 was higher for those without college experience (11.0%) than for those with college experience (2.6%)

Last Updated: 9/20/2012

Sources: CIRCLE Analysis of Current Population Survey (CPS) 2012 March Basic Supplement


[1] Calculation is based on CIRCLE analysis of Current Population Survey (CPS) 2012  March Basic Supplement

[2] Calculation is based on CIRCLE analysis of 2010 Census Brief

[3]Unemployment figures are not seasonally adjusted