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Murray: Summer Jobs Report Shows Program's Success, Demonstrates Need to Put Young People Back to Work in 2010

Mar 17 2010

Over 5,000 Washington state young people got jobs and training last summer through the program

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray, who worked to include funding for summer employment programs for young people in last year’s economic recovery act, today commented on a study showing the program’s success for young people and our economy.  The U.S. Department of Labor report revealed that the 2009 Summer Youth Employment Initiative benefited participants as well as the businesses that employed them.  Last week Murray fought to expand the 2009 program to employ up to 500,000 young people this summer, but her amendment was blocked by Republicans.  

“Today’s report clearly demonstrates what hundreds of thousands of young people and business owners already know—the summer jobs program worked and should be repeated this summer.  In Washington state we helped over 5,000 young people get a job last summer,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Putting young people to work and giving them the skills to succeed in the future shouldn’t be a partisan issue.  By putting young people to work over the summer we are keeping them off the streets, helping put money back into our economy, and preparing a new generation of workers for the future. That is something we should all be able to agree is good for America’s future.  I will continue to work to expand the summer jobs initiative as we continue our larger efforts to put Americans back to work.”

Murray’s amendment would have provided $1.3 billion through the Workforce Investment Act to stimulate local economies by building on and expanding the highly successful Recovery Act youth employment program. The amendment was brought to the Senate floor on March 9, 2010, where it was brought down by Republicans using a procedural maneuver despite getting 55 votes.  

Senator Murray fought to include $1.2 billion for summer jobs programs in the Recovery Act for summer 2009. This successful program put over 300,000 young people to work across the country stimulated local economies, and provided at-risk young people with skills and training to succeed in the workforce.  

Over 5,000 young people were put to work in communities across Washington state
The report, released today, was developed by Mathematica Policy Research and funded by the Department of Labor.  Titled “Reinvesting in America’s Youth: Lessons from the 2009 Recovery Act Summer Youth Employment Initiative,” it analyzes monthly performance data submitted to the department’s Employment and Training Administration by states and looks closely at the experiences of 20 select local areas.  Among the report’s findings:
  • Employers interviewed for this 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.

View the full report

Murray is a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and Chairman of the HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, as well as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.