“The time is long overdue for us to start investing in our young people and help them get the jobs and education they need to be part of our economy and our society,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote in a Mic op-ed published on Tuesday.
“Youth unemployment is one of the great crises facing our country, impacting millions of young people and their families, but it is one we rarely discuss in Washington,” he added. Sen. Sanders used the article to explain a youth job bill (pdf) he is co-sponsoring with Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).
“It is time for our country to honor our duty to those young people who are struggling to find work,” said Rep. Conyers, when the legislation was announced. “Tackling youth unemployment isn’t just good ethics. It’s good economics. Putting our youth to work will not only avoid anxiety, poverty, and broken dreams for young people, but will also provide needed tax revenue and reduce the need for social services.”
The proposed law would provide states and localities with $5.5 billion in immediate funding to employ a million American workers who are 16 to 24 years old, and support job training for hundreds of thousands more.
A large portion of the funding—$4 billion—would be issued as grants to state and local governments, to provide low-income youth with summer and year-round employment opportunities, as well as necessary services such as child care and transporation. The remaining $1.5 billion in grants would be issued to employers, community colleges, and local organizations, to provide young workers with apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training.
The above mentioned Op-Ed:
There is a tragic cycle in America today — one of poverty, unemployment, inadequate education and lack of job skills for future generations. It is long past time that we ended it.
Youth unemployment is one of the great crises facing our country, impacting millions of young people and their families, but it is one we rarely discuss in Washington. Over 5.3 million young people throughout our country — in inner cities and in rural areas — have either dropped out of high school or could not find work after graduation. Without a high school diploma, and the basic reading and communications skills that come with it, young people are much less likely to make it in today’s highly competitive and technologically changing job market.
The Economic Policy Institute analyzed the real unemployment rate — people who have given up looking for a job, or are working part-time, but in need of full-time employment — for recent high school graduates between the ages of 17 and 20 and found extraordinarily high unemployment rates. Over 28% of young whites, nearly 30% of young Latinos and more than 42% of young African-Americans are unemployed. These outrageously high rates of youth unemployment are not only unacceptable: They are having a tragic impact on our society.
Not being part of the economy early on in adulthood can have major consequences for a person’s entire life. When people leave school and look for a jobs, but there’s nothing there month after month — no job, no income and only constant rejection and depression with nothing to look forward to — millions of young people in every corner of our country become outcasts, living in worlds outside of the productive economy.
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