Labor Seal NYS Department of Labor                          

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State Responds to Unemployment Crisis Among Youth in the Finger Lakes Region

Rochester, NY (May 12, 2009) - State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith and Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner David A. Hansell today announced $5.91 million in federal funding to help create more than 2,600 jobs for lower income/at-risk youth in the Finger Lakes Region. Across the state, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will provide $61 million in funding, and an additional $35 million will be provided through the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant program, creating 50,000 jobs for New York’s lower-income youth statewide.

These initiatives are critical in light of the soaring youth unemployment rate across the State. Statewide, over the past 12 months, the unemployment rate among youth ages 16 through 19 was 20.1 percent, compared to 6.2 percent among all ages. In addition, the latest data available indicates that the unemployment rates among youth ages 16 to 19 in the Rochester Metropolitan Area was 21 percent. These estimates include only young adults actively seeking employment.

State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith said, “With summertime right around the corner, Governor Paterson and the State Labor Department are making a concerted effort on all fronts to assist youth in finding employment under very difficult circumstances. Everything is on the table when it comes to assisting the future of this state.”

OTDA Commissioner David A. Hansell said, “This program provides important experiences for young people that can help them develop a career path by exposing them to a diverse array of jobs. The work they do will help them develop knowledge and confidence and we hope it will contribute to greater economic security for the families involved.”

New York’s low-income youth are slated to receive $61 million in Workforce Investment Act (WIA) employment and training funds under ARRA. Administered by the New York State Department of Labor (DOL), WIA funding will provide paid work experience, education, skills training, and support services for at-risk youth. The maximum age of eligibility has been raised from 21 to 24 so that young adults 14 to 24 are eligible to participate. Some of these jobs will continue after the summer ends via career ladder programs.

In addition to the ARRA funding, $35 million in TANF funding will support the State’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) for all 57 counties and New York City. Administered by the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), this funding will include approximately $19.5 million for New York City youth. SYEP is designed to not only help teenagers find a summer job, but also to instill skills and work ethic necessary for youth to advance and prepare for life after high school. For many participants, the program provides their first exposure to the workforce. Last year, these funds were used to employ nearly 26,000 young people.

TANF requires that youth must be between the ages of 14 and 20 to qualify for SYEP. Participating families must be recipients of public assistance, or have a family income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $36,620 for a family of three.

“This funding will allow us to dramatically increase the number of youths we serve,” said Rochester Mayor Robert J. Duffy. “We are very proud of our successful Summer of Opportunity and Summer Youth Employment programs. There are a large number of applicants currently going through our process and now we can make a greater impact by teaching valuable life skills to our next generation of workers.”

“I applaud our state and federal leaders for recognizing the importance of providing our region’s teenagers with meaningful employment,” said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks.  “Monroe County has always been committed to making sure that our youths have access to employment – especially during the summer months.  These programs will also give our teens the opportunity to establish a good work ethic while learning the necessary skills needed for a successful career.”

The Commissioners also urged youth across the Finger Lakes Region to take advantage of DOL’s revamped, which offers direct access to in-depth career and education information for more than 900 occupations, including job descriptions, estimated wages and the job outlook for each occupation. More importantly, CareerZone can help youth develop a “worker identity” early on and focus their studies on the subjects they need in order to succeed in the job market when they leave school.

For more information on the State’s summer youth jobs programs, visit or