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Murray Restores Funding for Highly Successful Youth Summer Jobs Program as Difficult Summer Hiring Season Approaches

May 25 2010

With teen employment rate at lowest level since WWII, summer jobs program will be essential to getting youth into jobs, improving small business productivity, introducing the next generation to the working world

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Employment, announced that she has successfully included funding in the final version of critical jobs legislation that will restore a national youth summer jobs program for the coming summer. The program, which last year helped employ over 313,000 teens nationally and over 5,000 young people in Washington state, is set to receive $1 billion for the upcoming summer.

“This investment comes just in the nick of time for young people facing a historically difficult summer jobs market,” said Senator Murray. “It’s also a big victory for efforts to give young people a productive summer experience, to helping local businesses and economies grow, and to providing the next generation with an introduction to the working world.

“I have heard directly from young people who participated in last year’s highly successful program about how it changed their lives and gave them the skills and experiences they’ll use to get ahead. We now have the opportunity to provide the same experience to thousands of additional young people across Washington state.”

The investment in the 2010 summer jobs program is included in the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act which the Senate is set to vote on this week. The spending for the summer jobs program , or YouthJobs Act, is fully paid for with spending offsets.

The funding for the summer jobs program will be distributed through the Workforce Investment Act which brings together public resources and private industry to create Workforce Investment Boards that act as local hubs for employment. Each Workforce Investment Boards creates programs specifically tailored for a region’s needs and employment priorities. 

Washington State Employment Impact

Last year, the summer jobs program Senator Murray championed in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) gave over 5,000 young people in Washington a summer job experience. With the investment Senator Murray has now worked to make for 2010, it is estimated that this summer over 5,000 young people will again benefit. A breakdown of the number of young people who were given work experiences through last year’s program by local Workforce Development Council regions in Washington state is listed below.

Olympic: 223 
 Spokane: 500
Pacific Mountain: 200   
Benton –Franklin: 186
Northwest: 351    
North Central: 322
Snohomish: 246  
Southwest Washington: 696
Seattle-King County: 1000 Tacoma-Pierce: 1200
South Central: 515  
Eastern Washington Partnership: 271

Total: 5710

A Difficult Outlook for Summer Job Market

The current job market for youth employment is extremely difficult:

  • In 2009, the teen employment rate had dropped to 28.4%, a new post- World War II
  • In the first three months of this year, for every 100 teenagers in the country only 26.2 were able to be working.
  • The predicted Teen Summer Employment rate nationally for 2010 is 27.4%, another decrease from last Summer’s actual rate of 28.5% . This predicted rate would again represent a new post-World War II low, 17.6% below its rate in the Summer of 2000.

Building on A Successful Program

A report supported by the Department of Labor on the 2009 program found it to be highly successful.

  • Employers interviewed for the study were overwhelmingly positive about the initiative.  They reported that the experience of mentoring a new employee was worth the effort and almost unanimously agreed that they would participate again if given the opportunity.
  • Many young people were enthusiastic about being able to help their families in tough economic times.  They also reported that, in the absence of their summer jobs, they would be competing with more experienced adult workers for jobs or doing nothing productive over their summer breaks.
  • Nationwide, local areas reported that nearly 75 percent of summer job participants achieved a measurable increase in their work readiness skills while participating.
  • Available data show that more than 82% of participants completed their summer work.

 The New York Times editorial page recently said that “Unless the Senate acts quickly, this will be one of the bleakest summers on record for youth employment…summer jobs help young people in desolate communities find meaning in their lives while improving their long-term work possibilities.” - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/opinion/02sun2.html