Washington, D.C. – With more than one-third of the nation’s minority youth unemployed, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Chaka Fattah today announced legislation aimed at increasing employment among at-risk youth. The 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.
The smart investment to create better job opportunities for America’s youth gained the support of President Obama, who included the measure in his latest budget proposal.
“Supporting education and training for our city youth is a smart investment that will help rebuild our local economy and pay dividends over the long term,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This program would give city 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.”
“I am excited to be working with the National Urban League and Senator Gillibrand on such an important piece of legislation,” said Rep. Fattah. “The Urban Jobs Act will help our nation’s youth acquire the training and skills necessary to participate in society in a meaningful and productive way. In turn, this bill will strengthen families, communities, and our nation as a whole.”
Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League said, “The Urban Jobs Act provides and opportunity to strengthen investments in at risk you and young adults in a way that promotes their employability. There is no better return on taxpayers’ dollars than to invest in America’s youth. We look forward to working with Sen. Gillibrand and Rep. Fattah to help pass this important legislation.”
The unemployment rate for minority youths in March was approximately 33.8 percent for African Americans and 28.1 percent for Hispanics. African American youths are about 1.6 times more likely than white students to drop out of high school, and Hispanic youths are almost 3 times more. Additionally, the labor force participation rate for youth without a high school diploma is about 13 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. Recent analysis indicates that young people who are unemployed for as long as six months risk earning an estimated $22,000 less over the next 10 years due to the negative impact of prolonged unemployment. For the 967,000 young people who experienced a lengthy period of unemployment, which was an all-time high reached in 2010, it is estimated that these individuals will lose a total of $21.4 billion in earnings over the next 10 years. 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 would create an Urban Jobs Program that would award competitive grants to national and regional non-profit organizations, in partnership with local affiliates, to provide a holistic approach for preparing youth ages 18 through 24 for entry into the job market. An organization that received a grant would provide a comprehensive set of services that includes:
- Case management services to help participants effectively utilize the services offered by the program;
- Educational programming, including skills assessment, reading and math remediation, educational enrichment, General Education Development (GED) credential preparation, and post-secondary education;
- Employment and job readiness activities, including mentoring, placement in community service opportunities, internships, on-the-job training, occupational skills training, job placement in unsubsidized jobs, and personal development; and
- Support services, including health and nutrition referral, housing assistance, training in interpersonal and basic living skills, transportation, child care, clothing, and other assistance as needed.
The Urban Jobs Act would also direct the Secretary of Labor to establish a National Jobs Council Advisory Committee to analyze and advise on the implementation of the Urban Jobs Program, and would have successful applicants establish local jobs council advisory committees to aid in establishing community support for local implementation of the program.