Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Boston, Massachusetts and Baltimore, Maryland are among a number of enterprising U.S. cities that have helped put scores more young people in private-sector jobs for the summer. This is thanks to some aggressive lobbying by local mayors and other elected officials.
While these efforts do help, the demand for jobs for young people is still not being fully met.
Federal funding for youth employment has been cut dramatically by nearly $1.2 billion nationwide. In addition, the typical summer retail and service jobs that were normally being filled by young people are now being snatched up by unemployed adults who are hungry for work and a paycheck.
Cities, however, are not sitting still. Furthermore, they aren’t just asking companies to “do the right thing” by hiring more young people. Instead, cities are pitching the initiative as a way to identify and cultivate future employees. Karen Sitnick, the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development in Baltimore director, called the new initiative “a workforce preparation opportunity,” instead of what some might be tempted to call a social program.
Just how bad are the actual numbers? Pretty bad. Only one in four youths in America between the ages of 16 and 19 has a job these days, the lowest percentage since World War II. Among black youths, the number is as low as one in six. These jobless youths are not only being deprived of summer pocket money, but also of the chance to get early exposure to the work force and start building a potentially successful and prosperous career.
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