Press Release

With More Than One-Third Of Minority Youth Unemployed, Gillibrand, Rangel, National Urban League Push For Legislation To Connect At-Risk City Youth With Job Opportunities

Aug 16, 2011

New York, NY – With more than one-third of the nation’s minority youth unemployed, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Congressman Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), Assemblyman Keith Wright (D-NY), National Urban League President Marc Morial, New York Urban League (NYUL) President Arva Rice, and New York City youth today stood at New York Urban League in Harlem to continue their push for federal legislation aimed at increasing employment among at-risk New York City 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.

“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.”

 “America can’t succeed in the future when our children aren’t given the tools and the chances necessary to thrive in today’s global economy,” said Congressman Rangel. “Education is a pathway out of poverty, crime and violence. Young people have been hit hardest in the current financial downturn and the minority communities are disproportionately affected.  We have to concentrate on the untold crisis of youth unemployment and make sure that we do not lose our talented youth to hopelessness or incarceration. I’m proud to join Senator Gillibrand, National Urban League, and my colleagues in our efforts to combat youth unemployment that demands a long-term investment in our children’s education and job training.”

 “With an unemployment rate of over 20% in some pockets of Brooklyn, many of my constituents are in desperate need of job training opportunities,” said Congressman Ed Towns (D-NY). Programs that can help people who are unemployed or underemployed move to prosperity are crucial towards moving our community out of this recession. I applaud the National Urban League for the work it is doing in urban areas across this country, and I hope that my colleagues will join us in securing more funds to support this much-needed work.”

“Young people are particularly hard hit in this recession,” said Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY).  “The Urban Jobs Act provides young men and women the critical resources and support services to help them navigate their way towards steady employment.  I join my colleagues in government and Presidents Marc Morial and Arva Rice in their continued commitment to the young people of New York City and the nation.”

“As Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Labor, I am eager to support the efforts of Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Rangel,” said Assemblyman Wright. “The Urban Jobs Act is exemplar of what is needed in my District and others like it across the Country. I stand ready to lead the State Legislature in implementation of the Act once signed by President Obama and replication across the State where possible.”

“The Urban Jobs Act is an insurance policy for our young people for under the Urban Jobs Act, they will receive job training skills and employment opportunities,” said Inez E. Dickens, Assistant Deputy Majority Leader of the New York City Council.  “Furthermore, this vital piece of legislation will allow not for profits to work in local communities and network with local small businesses, in particular minority and women owned business enterprises thereby helping to revitalize community business districts.  I strongly support our Congressional leaders and will do what I can to advocate for passage of the Urban Jobs Act.”

“For too many urban young people, circumstances are dire,” Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League said. “Studies show that youth unemployment can result in a lifetime of underemployment. The Urban Jobs Act not only will put young people on a path to economic empowerment, but also create a stronger economy where everyone has the opportunity to prosper.”

 “Borough to borough, block to block, we are confronted with youth that are in dire need of access to employment resources to create better opportunities for themselves and their families,” said Arva Rice, President and CEO of the NYUL. “The Urban Jobs Act will be pivotal in redefining outcomes for our communities for generations to come.”


The average unemployment rate for minority youths in urban communities in July was approximately 39% for African Americans and 36% for Hispanics. The city’s African American and Hispanic youths are twice as likely to drop out of school and make up more than 80% of the city’s detention centers. Additionally, the labor force participation rate for youth without a high school diploma is about 20 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 would create an Urban Jobs Program that would award competitive grants to national 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. A national 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 the implementation of the Urban Jobs Program, and have successful applicants establish local jobs council advisory committees to aid in establishing community support for local implementation of the program.

The NYUL, a non-profit organization headquartered in Harlem with offices in Staten Island, Queens, and the Bronx, operates two city employment centers. The Employment Services programs offered by NYUL provide skills training in sectors such as healthcare, construction and technology and have led to full-time employment.

This week marks the start of National Workforce Week of Action, where organizations across the country, including the National Urban League, the American Association of Community Colleges, the National Council of LaRaza and the National Youth Employment Coalition, unite in support of adequate funding for workforce education and training programs.