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Labor Departments Unite to Urge Senate to Pass Summer Youth Legislation

$1 Billion Bill Could Change the Lives of Hundreds of Thousands of Youth this Summer

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Albany, NY (June 07, 2010) -

A short time ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to authorize $1 billion in summer youth programs for this year.  The Senate is expected to take up the bill when they return from recess today, Monday, June 7.  This legislation is critical for youth in states like Massachusetts and New York, who served more than 36,000 youth last year thanks to federal funding.   

At a press conference in Springfield, Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne F. Goldstein and New York Labor Commissioner Colleen C. Gardner today called on the U.S. Senate to act immediately and vote "yes" on this important legislation.   

Massachusetts estimates that with a $1B summer jobs package nationally, the state would receive approximately $20 M, which would result in around 8,500 youth served in summer jobs. If the Senate does not act on the $1B, only 916 youth will be put to work this summer with federal ARRA dollars.

"It is critical that we obtain the funding for the public/private partnership that will provide summer jobs for young people, especially in our cities," said Joanne F. Goldstein, Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development. "Youth employment helps address the issues of urban unrest, allows young people to engage in productive activity and increases family income in these difficult economic times."

New York Labor Commissioner Gardner said, "Weather is getting nice across the country, people are venturing out to public parks, pools and beaches, and for hundreds of thousands of our nation's youth, there is little or no hope that they'll find a job this summer.  Unemployment among youth, especially in our urban areas, is at crisis levels, which is why the federal government needs to act immediately.  I urge them to do so."  

Research has shown that a key predictor of future success in the workplace is early exposure to a job.  In spite of this, young people are looking for jobs in New York, Massachusetts and states across the country.   In New York, the unemployment rate for youth ages 16 to 24 was 17.9 percent in 2009.  There is also an overwhelming demand for summer jobs, with as many as five youths applying every one summer job.  Summer youth funds are also considered "high velocity" dollars because they are spent locally to keep local economies going.

"The summer youth employment program is an ideal way for young people to build vocational skills, earn money and develop a sense of pride that they are contributing to society," Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Sandi Vito said. "Action must be taken to ensure that this valuable program - which for many youth is their first introduction to the workforce - is in place and able to have a positive effect on the future of our workforce."

"These programs help teens use their summertime productively, and they help all of the participants build valuable skills that will give them a leg up now and throughout their lives," said Washington State Commissioner Karen Lee, who also is president of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies.

Connecticut Acting Commissioner Linda Agnew stressed, "Summer youth programs are critical if states are to enhance the future workforce talent pipeline. Last year approximately 6,000 young people were provided valuable employment opportunities through our summer program, but nearly 7,000 were turned away due to lack of funding. This legislation will help eliminate waiting lists and assure that additional summer youth employment opportunities are provided to many more young people in Connecticut."

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman said, "Thanks to Congress, Wisconsin provided employment opportunities for over 4,000 youth and young adults last summer with funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. While the economy is steadily improving, challenges remain for youth seeking summer employment opportunities. I urge the U.S. Senate to approve funding for summer youth employment. More than summer jobs, we're preparing a new generation of workers for the future by providing valuable work experience."

For more information, please visit: The Massachusetts Office of Labor and Workforce Development or the New York State Department of Labor

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