Summer Jobs Programs Kick-Off Nation Wide
By Megan Volger
July 13, 2009
Summer is here and so are the floods of young people searching for summer jobs. However, in the current struggling economy, part-time or seasonal work is difficult to find. Even fast-food restaurants and movie theaters, notorious Summer Job providers, are seldom hiring.
Job shortages are particularly devastating to youth, because young people are often overlooked in favor of more experienced and older individuals. The unemployment rate for teenagers in May, at 22.7 percent, was more than twice the rate of national unemployment at 9.5 percent. Summer Jobs for youth are important because they provide young people with opportunities to gain skills and real-world knowledge that will likely aid them in their future careers. Jobless teenagers are more likely to get into trouble than teenagers who are off the streets working. Also, many teens seek summer work to supplement their family income, as more of their parents become out-of-work and desperate for part-time jobs themselves.
Cities have stepped in to help by supporting local programs that create Summer Jobs for young people. Aided by $1.2 billion dedicated to youth employment in The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), mayors around the nation have expanded their summer work programs to accommodate more young people seeking summer work. Vice President Joe Biden projects that this federal stimulus money will create 125,000 new Summer Jobs nationwide. Already, local officials have been swamped with applications for new part-time jobs.
U.S. Conference of Mayors President Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels expects to use Seattle’s $1.1 million of federal stimulus money combined with funds from the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative to increase the number of participants in its Youth Employment Program from 492 last summer to 650 this year. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced that his Summer Job program will employ nearly 9,000 young people this summer, up from 7,898 last summer. The ARRA will provide funding for 2,500 jobs around the city. The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce will support another 1,000 paid internships. According to Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, federal money will also allow Peoria to expand its Summer Jobs program this year. Eighty youth in Peoria will be provided with jobs this summer compared to 60 last year.
Using federal funds to employ young people is also beneficial to the economy. On average, teens spend more of their paychecks than older workers and consequently keep more money in circulation. In addition, stimulus money can be used to subsidize internships at private companies, creating low-cost help and an avenue for savings for less prosperous firms.
Most Summer Job programs target youths between 14 and 24 years old and some focus on youths who come from low-income families or those who face barriers, such as disabilities and homelessness. They match participants with jobs in childcare, reception work, hospitality, physical labor, educational training, vocational apprenticeships and more. Programs last from four to ten weeks, offer minimum wage or academic credit, and a stipend.