Washington, D.C. – With more than 16 percent of youth unemployed, including about one-third of the nation’s minority youth, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced key provisions from her legislation to help increase employment among at-risk youth have passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) as part of the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
Senator Gillibrand’s Urban Jobs Act would provide federal funding to nonprofit organizations, allowing them to carry out programming to prepare youth for employment, particularly those who have dropped out of high school or have been subject to the criminal justice process.
“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.”
“We are thrilled with the bipartisan passage of the Workforce Investment Act, and we especially applaud Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for championing the crucial provisions that will help address the needs of disconnected youth,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “Senator Gillibrand’s leadership in this effort is a clear demonstration of her commitment to helping disconnected youth rebuild their lives by giving them the tools they need, including educational preparation, job training, and mentoring, to become contributing members of society and enable their upward mobility—goals that are completely aligned with our Jobs Rebuild America campaign.”
At more than 16 percent, the youth unemployment rate is more than twice the unemployment rate for people of all ages. The average unemployment rate for minority youths in June was approximately 43 percent for African Americans and 30 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. Developing policies such as those under the Urban Jobs Act would assist youth in obtaining the education and skills necessary for success in the labor market, helping reduce youth unemployment and strengthen the economy.
The Urban Jobs Act proposals contained within the reauthorization of WIA include awarding competitive grants to national and regional non-profit organizations, in partnership with local affiliates and workforce investment boards, to provide programming focused on improving the education and training of youth. Funding would be used to provide a comprehensive set of services that includes educational programming, such as skills assessment, reading and math remediation, educational enrichment, General Education Development (GED) credential preparation, and post-secondary education and well as employment and job readiness activities, including mentoring, internships, on-the-job training, occupational skills training, job placement in unsubsidized jobs, and personal development.
After passing in committee with bipartisan support, the WIA bill will move next to the full Senate for consideration.