WHEREAS, an emerging crisis in America is the readiness of our future workforce. The worker and skill shortages that employers will encounter over the next 25 years is exacerbated now by the reality that large numbers of American youth have little or no attachment to the competitive labor market; and

WHEREAS, findings by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University show that:

  • Youth unemployment is at historically high levels;
  • Since 2000, the nationís teenagers and young adults, especially those without four year college degrees, have experienced steep declines in their employment rates;
  • Unemployed, out-of-school young workers have found it difficult to obtain full-time jobs;
  • The number of jobless and out-of-school youth has increased by 600,000 or 12 percent since 2000;
  • In 2002, 5.5 million youth (ages 16-24) were out of work and out of school. Twenty-five percent of African- American youth and 20 percent of Latino youth are out of work and out of school;
  • The 2004 summer employment rate was the lowest for the nationís teens in the past 57 years at 42.3 percent;
  • While state and local WIA youth programs have put some teens to work in recent summers, these job placements have been able to offset only a small share of the job losses experienced by teens; and

    WHEREAS, youth unemployment rates are disproportionately higher for youths with disabilities; and

    WHEREAS, there is no question that American business needs a well-prepared youth labor market to meet its future workforce demands. Investing now in connecting young people to career and skill paths is essential so that they will become mainstream labor force contributors as adults; and

    WHEREAS, neither American business nor American society can afford to leave todayís youth behind; and

    WHEREAS, the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) provides the nationís only comprehensive youth system to improve the education and training prospects for at-risk in and out-of-school youth;

    WHEREAS, the Department of Labor's WIA Youth Opportunity Grants represented a major commitment to addressing these conditions and increasing the long term employability of youth living in the poorest communities in our country; and

    WHEREAS, disadvantaged youth have been severely underserved since 2000 with the elimination of a separate funding stream for summer job programs and the enactment of the Workforce Investment of 1998; and

    WHEREAS, the Administration and Congress eliminated the Youth Opportunity Grants program in the FY 2005 and FY 2006 budgets; and

    WHEREAS, the nationís teen summer employment rate fell from 52.2 percent in the summer of 2000 to 42.3 in the summer of 2004, the lowest for the nationís teens in the past 57 years; and

    WHEREAS, the Administration has proposed to eliminate services to in-school youth and to allow Governors to reduce or eliminate services to youth altogether by merging the WIA youth formula program it into a combined state block grant with WIA adult funding,

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U. S. Conference of Mayors calls on Congress not to include the WIA youth formula program in any block grant; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in WIA reauthorization legislation, The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to:

  • Retain the WIA Youth formula program and authorization funding for the formula program at not less than $1 billion;
  • Provide flexibility to local areas to allow for a wide range of programs and strategies, including summer jobs, as currently provided in WIA;
  • Retain services to both in-school and out-of-school youth;
  • Preserve in-school youth programs and in-school services for 14 and 15 year olds.
  • Maintain the focus on youth development;
  • Ensure that any new targeted grant program for youth be available for both in-school and out-of-school youth, particularly those in high poverty communities and must be funded only in excess of the $1 billion dedicated for the youth formula program. Further, successful Youth Opportunity and Youth Offender programs should continue to be funded from any new national youth program, assuring local support for such efforts; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to make a major new investment in our nationís youth of at least $1 billion to address the unmet needs of youth who have been adversely affected since 2000; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this new investment would provide funding for a new initiative to generate summer job and learning opportunities for economically disadvantaged youth both in and out-of-school; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any change in the youth formula allocation and any formula for new programs like the Youth Challenge Grants be substantially weighted to reflect the population to which the funds are targeted, such as high school drop outs, youth in the juvenile justice system, and youth aging out of foster care; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to incorporate lessons learned from the Youth Opportunity Grant program into WIA reauthorization and incorporate the YO philosophy of long term, comprehensive support focused on youth development into all youth workforce policies and programs; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to restore its long term commitment to a strong summer jobs program either by providing funding for year round youth activities at a level equivalent to or greater than the FY 2002 funding levels and ensure that summer jobs are part of any WIA reauthorization or to enact a separate summer job program; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to help contribute to solutions to the pervasive poverty of youth and to provide 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.

  • ©2005 The U.S. Conference of Mayors
    Tom Cochran, Executive Director
    1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
    Tel. 202.293.7330 ~ Fax 202.293.2352