Washington, D.C. – With more than 15 percent of youth unemployed, including about one-third of the nation’s minority youth, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that a $20 million investment to help increase employment among at-risk youth is included in the omnibus appropriations bill that passed Congress and was signed by the President.
Senator Gillibrand pushed for this federal funding to help prepare more New York youth for employment, particularly those who have dropped out of high school or have been subject to the criminal justice process. The funding will be used by national and regional non-profit organizations, in partnership with local affiliates, to provide job training and education initiatives, as well as support services to prepare this population of youth for the job market.
“Supporting education and training for our youth is a smart investment that can help rebuild local economies and pay dividends over the long term,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This effort would give organizations the tools and resources they need to help our youth prepare for future jobs, find employment opportunities, and reach their full potential. The skills they would acquire through this program are invaluable. Helping our youth compete in this difficult economy will have a lasting, positive impact on our community.”
“The National Urban League applauds Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s commitment and leadership in securing bipartisan support in the omnibus appropriations bill for critical program funding needed for services to young ex-offenders and school dropouts to get them back on track toward employment,” said Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, headquartered in New York City. “Such funding places a laser focus on this population of severely disconnected youth who live in high crime, high poverty areas. The return on this investment will mean productive lives that contribute to our nation’s economy and social wellbeing,” Morial said.
At more than 15 percent, the youth unemployment rate is more than twice the unemployment rate for people of all ages. The average unemployment rate for minority youth under age 25 is approximately 27 percent for African Americans and 17 percent for Hispanics. Of the estimated 10.6 million youth under the age of 25 who are not fully employed, 1.6 million lack a high school diploma, facing significant barriers to employment, with the labor force participation rate for youth without a high school diploma about 15 percentage points lower than the labor force participation rate for high school graduates.
Lengthy periods of unemployment early in a young person’s work life can have lasting negative effects on future earnings, productivity, and employment opportunities. Funding initiatives like this would assist youth in obtaining the education and skills necessary for success in the labor market, helping reduce youth unemployment and strengthen the economy.
Senator Gillibrand’s full letter advocating for this funding is attached.