In Focus: Building the Capacity of Communities

Jan 17, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

The High Cost of Youth Unemployment

By Zane Jennings and Kisha Bird

Since the Great Recession, young adults have struggled to connect with and thrive in the American workforce. A new study by Young Invincibles, “In This Together,” demonstrates the dire situation young adults face in today’s labor market a and the economic consequences of youth unemployment to our nation.

Since 2007, workers ages 18 to 34 (known as “Millennials)” have faced double digit unemployment rates. And the youngest American workers, ages 16 to 24, have fared the worst, with unemployment rates exceeding twice the national average. In contrast to prior economic downturns, in which young adult unemployment returned to pre-recession levels within 5 years, recovery from the Great Recession is taking significantly longer.

Continued high unemployment has caused many young adults to withdraw completely from the workforce. Recent research estimates 5.8 million young adults are neither working nor in school. Ages 16 through 24 are critical development years, as young people prepare to take on adult responsibilities. Having early work experience and attachment to the labor market is essential to establishing work history and credibility and is a predictor of future wages and employment mobility.

According to the study, young adults’ economic struggles, anxiety, and “deferment or denial of dreams” have major consequences both for them personally and for the national economy. Through loss of tax revenue and safety net expenditures, federal and state governments lose almost $9 billion annually due to Millennial unemployment. That’s roughly $4,100 in forgone tax revenue and public benefits for each unemployed person between the ages of 18 and 24, and $9,875 for each unemployed person between 25 and 34.

Tackling the issue of youth unemployment is not only the right thing to do—it is a necessity. As we continue to right our sluggish economy and address long-term challenges, such as the federal budget deficit, special attention must be paid to the broader economic implications of this demographic in the workforce.

Young Invincibles identifies several strategies to reconnect young adults to the workforce and improve their skills, including:

  • Investing in national service programs, such as AmeriCorps. Expanding national service will enable young adults to make money and garner work experience while contributing to communities in need.
  • Reinstating the Youth Opportunity Grant. Although grant funding ended in 2005, an evaluation of the program showed that Youth Opportunity created pathways to education, training, jobs, and internships for thousands of youth in high-poverty communities.
  • Expanding the Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship (RA) program. RA provides training in vital technical skills, as well as wages for workers. The RA program is also an incredible investment for the federal government and employers.  For every dollar invested, the federal government gains $50 in return. Employers also many reap benefits including a more technical and well-trained workforce.
  • Establishing a “Career Internship” standard by offering long-term internships with school-approved employers that provide wages and/or school credit. The recommendation also includes a targeted component to allow for the participation of out-of-school youth.
  • Providing more opportunities for Millennial workers. Their greatest strengths—their technology skills and entrepreneurial, collaborative, and creative approaches to problem solving—are essential assets to employers.

CLASP has long advocated for a diverse set of policies and interventions to connect the most vulnerable youth (including those without a secondary credential and youth of color) to work, education, and ultimately opportunity; this includes building on research and lessons learned from the Youth Opportunity Grant Program.

As “In This Together” shows, young adult unemployment is an important issue with widespread consequences for continued inaction.  It is imperative that we act, and act quickly.

Read the full report and access state data>>

Learn about CLASP youth policy recommendations >>>

Aug 3, 2012  |  PERMALINK »

Raising the Visibility: Advancing Strategies to Improve Outcomes for Disconnected Youth

By Kisha Bird

In American communities - large, small, urban, rural, and suburban -- millions of young people are isolated from opportunities to realize their potential and participate fully in our society. An astounding 6.7 million youth ages 16 to 24 are disconnected from education, the labor market, and opportunity. America's youth are experiencing depression-era levels of unemployment, and we are losing significant ground with segments of our minority youth population. In particular, low-income young men of color are disproportionately affected by the current labor market, with fewer than one in five African-American and Latino young men having a job last month.

The Obama Administration has shown considerable leadership in this arena through the White House Council for Community Solutions and the Interagency Work Group on Disconnected Youth.  The Department of Education's recent Request for Information on Strategies for Improving Outcomes for Disconnected Youth is also timely and necessary.  In response to the request for information, CLASP submitted a set of comprehensive recommendations that we hope will lead to:

  • continued visibility to the situation of this often forgotten segment of the youth population,
  • advanced policies that support dropout recovery and the reengagement of youth in high-risk situations, and
  • multiple federal funding streams that can create robust interventions to put youth on track to education, career, and life success.

It is important that these recent efforts are not one-time activities, but are launching points that will influence a broader vision of how federal policy can and should undergird local policy and program approaches for youth.  

Read more>>


Jun 6, 2012  |  PERMALINK »

Let's Seize this Opportunity and Keep the Focus on Disconnected Youth

By Kisha Bird

On Monday, the White House Council for Community Solutions held its final summit to culminate an 18-month process of bringing together myriad stakeholders in and outside the beltway to better understand the challenges facing youth ages 16 to 24 that are out of school and out of work.  Across the country, there are 6.7 million "opportunity youth." The Council's aim has been to raise solutions to help reconnect these youth to education and jobs and the opportunity to realize their potential.

During Monday's summit, the Council released its final report, Community Solutions for Opportunity Youth, which provides recommendations for steps the federal government can and should take to continue elevating national awareness of the issues facing "opportunity youth," as well as a roadmap for implementing effective cross-agency policies and supporting community-level interventions. CLASP applauds the Council's important work and we are thrilled to see that many of its final recommendations include policies CLASP and the Campaign for Youth have long-advocated for, including: drive development of successful cross-sector community collaboratives, create shared national responsibility and accountability, engage youth as leaders in the solution and build more robust on-ramps to employment

In 2008, the Campaign for Youth, a national coalition co-chaired by CLASP, released recommendations for a National Investment Strategy that focused on out-of-school and out-of-work youth ages16 to 24. Endorsed by over 250 organizations nationwide, the recommendations called for six primary strategies, driven by federal policy and designed to support local innovation, collaboration, and policy.  



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