CALLING FOR NATIONAL INVESTMENT IN AMERICA'S YOUNG ADULTS

WHEREAS, according to the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies June 2002 report, The Young, the Restless and the Jobless: The Case for a National Jobs Stimulus Program Targeted on America's Young Adults:

  • Young people ages 16 to 24 have disproportionately borne the brunt of the economic recession over the past 15 months, suffering some 53 percent of the near 2 million employment losses overall, though they only comprise 15 percent of the labor force;
  • During the economic boom in 2000 only one of five high school students living in poor families were able to obtain a job, and only one in six among Black and Hispanic high school students living in poor families;
  • Only one-third of the nation's teenagers living in high poverty neighborhoods were able to obtain a job;
  • Among young high school dropouts only 55 percent were working and that employment rate is 44 percent for poor high school dropouts;
  • Each year an additional 800,000 to 900,000 youth will enter the young adult population; and

WHEREAS, while the national economic picture has improved modestly, it is highly unlikely that there will be any quick turnaround in the labor market situation for the nation's young adults, according to the March 2002 report The National Economic Recession and Its Impacts on Employment Among the Nation's Young Adults (16-24 Years Old): the Untold Story of Rising Youth Joblessness by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University; and

WHEREAS, President Bush's efforts to boost the marriage rate will depend at least in part on the ability of young men to find jobs and given the characteristics of most mothers on welfare, policies to improve those employment prospects would need to focus on young minority men, particularly black men, according to the April 2002 Brookings report, Left Behind in the Labor Market: Recent Employment Trends Among Young Black Men; and

WHEREAS, according to the same report, only 52 percent of young, less educated black males are employed today, compared to 62 percent 20 years ago and the employment rate of young, less educated black males is much lower in cities than in suburbs, and the gap has widened over the last decade; and

WHEREAS, the recent passage of an extension of unemployment benefits will do very little for unemployed youth because most of them are ineligible for unemployment benefits; and

WHEREAS, young adults are completely ignored in the FY 2002 Supplemental Appropriations proposals; and

WHEREAS, President Bush's FY 2003 budget eliminates the Youth Opportunity Grant program including the Rewarding Youth Achievement Program - the only federal program providing comprehensive employment, education and youth development services targeted to low-income youth; and

WHEREAS, President Bush's FY 2003 budget significantly cuts the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) year-round youth program by $127 million and eliminates the Responsible Reintegration for Young Offenders program; and

WHEREAS, summer youth employment activities, one of the activities in the WIA year-round youth program, have significantly declined except in local areas where additional resources, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds, are available,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls for significant funding for a jobs stimulus program for young people ages 16 to 24, especially those living in high poverty neighborhoods and high school dropouts; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that TANF reauthorization should explicitly list youth development activities such as summer youth employment, job training, education and enrichment to make it clear that such activities are an appropriate use of TANF funds. In addition, funds should be made available to local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) and their Youth Councils to be coordinated with WIA youth funds to support summer youth work experience programs, and year round youth programs which encourage school completion and occupational skill development, career awareness, and job and career advancement in conjunction with One-Stop centers.