Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) said yesterday that the Disconnected Youth Employer Tax Credit (H.R. 7066) would be included in the economic recovery package to help create career paths for disconnected young people.

That represents a big success for Corporate Voices for Working Families. This tax credit represents one of our key legislative initiatives.

But more important, it represents an important step toward helping young people succeed on the job and throughout life. The current economic crisis has been particularly hard on young people — and this has important implications for our economic prosperity for years to come. 

An article in the Marquette Journal online provides some perspective.

According to the article: “The national teenage unemployment rate is 20 percent, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, up from 13 percent in 2000. Using the Bureau’s definition of unemployment, this means that 20 percent of men and women age 16 to 19 who want a job cannot find one.”

Beyond the current economic downturn, here’s why this situation is important to American businesses and to the future of our economic competitiveness.

Not having a job as a teen adversely affects attitudes and abilities down the line, said Andrew Sum, director of Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies and author of a study published this fall about the historically low figures of both summer and year-round teen unemployment.

“Their high levels of joblessness in their teen years will exacerbate their difficulties in transitioning to the career labor market in their late teens and early twenties,” Sum said. “(It will) reduce their future wage and earnings potential.”

The Disconnected Youth Employer Tax Credit is an important step in the right direction. It will allow employers to create career paths and job opportunities for young people today. And that will pay big dividends in the future as businesses look to hire workers to compete in the 21st century world economy.

For more alternative pathways for disconnected and at-risk youth, visit the publications section of our Corporate Voices website.