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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced legislation that will create a summer jobs program to provide 1 million jobs to young people across the country starting this summer. The legislation, the Summer Jobs Stimulus Act of 2008 – S. 2755, authorizes $1 billion for youth activities under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). 

"This program will stimulate local economies, provide skills and experience to new workers, and open the door to the working world for some of our most at-risk kids," said Senator Murray. "We need to realize that digging out of this financial crisis is about more than just cutting interest rates and changing lending laws. We need to engage at the local level where families and businesses are really hurting and that's exactly what providing summer jobs for young people will do."

Reducing Unemployment

Recent reports have shown that unemployment has risen to 4.8% and that the U.S. economy lost 63,000 jobs last month alone. In February 2008, the unemployment among 16 to 19 year-olds rose to 17% (up from 13% in December of 2006), and the unemployment rate for African American 16 to 19 year-olds increased 5% from this time last year – jumping to 31.7% (the rate was 27% in February of 2007). Introducing teens to the work world early will help to reduce unemployment, and early work experience has been shown to raise earnings over a lifetime by 10 – 20 percent.

Economic Stimulus

Murray's bill will also provide an immediate economic stimulus. Working teens have been shown to spend the money earned during their summer employments in the communities they earn that money in.  In fact, research from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University has shown that for every $1 a teen earns, it has an accelerator of $3 in the local economy.

Helping to Reduce Violent Crime

Additionally, the summer jobs program also has the added benefits of helping to reduce violence in cities and communities with unemployed youths during a time when some communities experience a spike in violent crime. 

"Law enforcement officials often say they see an increase in juvenile violence during summer months when our schools are out," said Senator Murray. "I am hopeful that an increase in the availability of summer jobs will help to steer teens away from violence and onto a productive path to work and success."

The additional funding will be available for the period of April 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008 and can only be used for summer jobs. These new dollars would be added to the existing WIA youth formula dollars that localities receive, allowing them to provide more desperately needed summer jobs.

Senator Murray is Chairman of the Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.