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2013 Summer Youth Jobs Key for Mayors
In First Ever Survey, Only 30 Percent of Companies Hired Youth Last Summer

By Dave Gatton
January 28, 2013

Only 30 percent of businesses hired a youth under the age of 23 for a summer job in 2012, according to a new U.S. Conference of Mayors/Zogby poll sponsored by the Council on Metro Economies and the New American City and its DollarWise Campaign. The results were released during a January 17 Summer Jobs workshop at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 81st Winter Meeting in Washington (DC).

“A summer job has always been a right of passage for youth and young adults as a way to develop pertinent skills, earn a little extra money, or begin a new and exciting career,” said one of the reports authors, John Zogby. “But the survey data does not present a rosy picture for youth/young adult summer employment.”

According to the report, two-thirds of respondents did not hire any youth/young adults for the summer of 2012. Also, 84.3 percent of respondents say they did not make a financial contribution to a summer jobs program. Over 86 percent of businesses said they had never been asked to hire youth/young adults by a government agency or non-government organization.

But the report did find a silver lining. Of the 29.7 percent of companies that did hire youth, 61.6 percent said they were likely to hire more youth/young adults for the summer of 2013. Of those companies, the overwhelming majority (73.7 percent) characterized the skills and educational capacity of the youth/young adults they hired as excellent (25.3 percent and good (48.4 percent).

“These survey results show that there is tremendous potential for cities, the private sector and the foundation community to work together to increase the participation of our business sector in hiring youth next summer,” said Conference of Mayors President Philadelphia Michael A. Nutter. “We thank those businesses and foundations who hired youth in 2012. But we really want to raise the bar and partner even more closely with every business across America, and encourage them to hire young workers every summer.”

Mayors, Business Partnerships

Responding to the survey results, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said, “We have our work cut out for us.” Most of the workshop was devoted to “best practice” examples of how cities had worked with the private sector to hire youth for summer jobs, including Rawlings, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman.

Rawlings described his Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program (MIFP), which offers rising high school juniors and seniors meaningful paid summer employment experiences in companies, universities, and non-profit organizations in Dallas. The mayor actively recruits employers within the city to participate in the program and fundraises for the effort. In 2012, the program doubled.

Coleman then commented on his Successful Opportunities to Achieve and Reconnect (S.O.A.R hire!) summer program. The initiative is a collaborative between the mayor and the city, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, and the Central Ohio Workforce Investment Corporation. The program connects 2,000 youth and young adults to employers and offers paid internships and valuable learning experiences. “Sometimes I have had to tell kids that they will not be hired today, because they were not appropriately dressed,” Coleman said. “I sent them home and they returned dressed properly for a job interview.”

Fischer also presented his SummerWorks program, which partnered with Louisville’s local businesses, foundations, and city leaders last year to raise over $1 million to employ Louisville’s youth—double the amount of funds raised from 2011. This was the second year that Fischer reached out to local businesses to support his program. “ Providing meaningful summer jobs to young people is one of the most important steps we can take as city leaders,” Fischer explained.

Partnership with Bank of America Foundation

At the workshop, Rawlings released a new publication, ”Partnerships in Summer Youth Employment,” which outlines how mayors in 14 cities worked with their private and non-profit sectors to provide and increase summer job opportunities for youth. The report was published in partnership with the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

“Young people are facing a crisis to obtain the employment and skills needed to succeed,” said Kerry Sullivan, President of the Foundation. “We encourage mayors to ask for support in establishing and sustaining programs that connect our youth to opportunities that provide valuable knowledge and skills for future employment.”

In 2012 summer, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation provided funding for over 800 teens to intern at non-profits in 20 cities. The Foundation also sponsored the USCM/Zogby Survey of businesses and their summer job hiring practices.