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More Must Be Done on Youth Unemployment

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

 

We are in the hopeful season of caps and gowns and ringing commencement addresses, celebrating new beginnings as talented and dedicated young people propel themselves into promising futures. Unfortunately, however, too many of our young adults today are facing a far different and harsher reality, characterized by persistent unemployment and dashed dreams.
 
The current unemployment rate for people between the ages of 16 and 24 is 14.5%, according to a new paper documenting and proposing solutions to the youth unemployment crisis by Elisabeth Jacobs, Senior Director for Policy at the Center of Equitable Growth, recently released by Brookings Institution. As Jacobs reports, this is the seventh straight year of double-digit unemployment in this age group. Perhaps more  concerning, nearly 6 million young adults today—about one-out-of-six--- are connected to neither education nor the labor market.

"Scarring" of Young Unemployed Workers

Research cited by Jacobs shows that “young people who endure early spells of unemployment are likely to have lower wages and greater odds of future unemployment than those who don’t.” This so-called “scarring” effect results in a reduction of 10% to 15% in annual income for 20 years or more.
 
Echoing a high, yet largely unfulfilled, priority of the Obama Administration, Jacobs makes ‘doubling-down” on community colleges, her top recommendation for how to effectively address the lingering youth unemployment crisis. She argues that they “represent the most promising pathway to high-quality employment for millions of American youths.”  
 
Persistent efforts to significantly boost federal funding by President Obama have been consistently turned back by Congress. As a result, despite the fact that up to a half of American undergraduates today go to community colleges, they receive only 1-in-5 dollars of federal higher education funding, according to Jacobs. Along with greater funding, Jacobs recommends national goals aimed at improving educational quality at community colleges as well as stronger collaboration with employers to ensure that programs and classes are up to date and meeting the skill needs of jobs actually available in the workplace.

Federal Grants are Available

Toward that end, President Obama and Vice-President Biden in remarks at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, recently unveiled a $500 million competitive grants program for community colleges that are working directly with businesses to teach the specific skills essential for available jobs. At the same time, Obama and Biden announced a new $100 million apprenticeship program aimed at fostering the formation of partnerships between community colleges, businesses, and nonprofit organizations “ to teach skills for hard-to-fill jobs, such as information technology, high-tech services, health care, and advanced manufacturing.” Both these new programs do not require Congressional approval—and are being paid for with existing funds.
 
As President Obama said at an earlier point in his Presidency, “In the coming years, jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience. We will not fill those jobs – or keep those jobs on our shores – without the training offered by community colleges.”
 
Jacobs offers 11 other recommendations for tackling the youth unemployment problem. But strengthening our community colleges remains the more important and urgent priority.  As our economy begins to strengthen and more funding becomes available at the national and state level, it is time to get this critical job done.
 
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island. 
 

 

Related Slideshow: MA Millionaires Received Unemployment Benefits

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1997

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 181,231

Number who earned more than $1 million: 22

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 66

Number between $200K and $500K: 691

Number between $100K and $200K: 5,663

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $27.7 million

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1998

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 180,217

Number who earned more than $1 million: 24

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 95

Number between $200K and $500K: 1,023

Number between $100K and $200K: 7,649

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $39.1 million

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1999

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 180,108

Number who earned more than $1 million: 51

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 162

Number between $200K and $500K: 1,495

Number between $100K and $200K: 10,368

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $59.5 million

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2000

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 167,460

Number who earned more than $1 million: 83

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 194

Number between $200K and $500K: 1,922

Number between $100K and $200K: 11,709

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $72.4 million

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2001

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 240,307

Number who earned more than $1 million: 98

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 284

Number between $200K and $500K: 3,687

Number between $100K and $200K: 22,376

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $155 million

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2002

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 309,994

Number who earned more than $200K: 4,703

Number between $100K and $200K: 28,075

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $318.5 million

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2003

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 291,762

Number who earned more than $200K: 4,163

Number between $100K and $200K: 25,771

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $242.3 million

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2004

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 241,700

Number who earned more than $200K: 3,748

Number between $100K and $200K: 21,492

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $165.4 million

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2005

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 210,411

Number who earned more than $200K: 3,561

Number between $100K and $200K: 19,505

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $150.1 million

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2006

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 196,737

Number who earned more than $200K: 3,636

Number between $100K and $200K: 19,714

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $153.2 million

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2007

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 206,782

Number who earned more than $200K: 4,216

Number between $100K and $200K: 22,951

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $186.6 million

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2008

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 236,240

Number who earned more than $200K: 5,168

Number between $100K and $200K: 28,699

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $268.8 million

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2009

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 301,618

Number who earned more than $200K: 7,758

Number between $100K and $200K: 38,785

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $560.2 million

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2010

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 364,617

Number who earned more than $1 million: 219

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 681

Number between $200K and $500K: 7,658

Number between $100K and $200K: 46,106

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $701.4 million

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2011

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 325,909

Number who earned more than $1 million: 189

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 662

Number between $200K and $500K: 7,318

Number between $100K and $200K: 41,133

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $532.6 million

 
 

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