The New York Times has an important — and timely — editorial today, “Americans Without Work.” Here’s one part of the editorial:
The real challenge — for President Obama and for Congressional Democrats — is to not get bogged down in that debate but rather to make job creation the undisputed priority for 2010.
Right now, finding people work is a more urgent task than reducing the deficit. Indeed, deficits cannot be tamed without more jobs to generate more tax revenue. A government boost to job growth is also necessary to help replace the millions of jobs that have been lost in the recession.
And importantly, the editorial focuses on the unemployment crisis facing America’s young people:
The problem is especially alarming in low-income, minority communities where the jobless rate for high school students is hovering near 90 percent.
The part-time jobs that were once a rite of passage began to disappear rapidly at the start of this decade. According to an analysis released this week by Andrew Sum, director of Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, employment rates among teenagers have dropped nearly four times faster than the rate among adults since 2000.
As a consequence, he says, men 65 and older — people old enough to be their grandfathers — are now more likely to find work than 16- to 19-year-olds.
According to the analysis, the joblessness rate for teenagers generally is the highest ever since the country began keeping statistics just after World War II. Things are especially bleak for low-income black students: only 4 in 100 found work this fall.
This is worrisome on several counts. First, young people who do not find work tend to become discouraged early on and stop trying. They fail to develop the work force skills that make them attractive to employers, which means that they are likely to remain unemployed or underemployed well into their adult years.
People who do not find work in their early years also have higher dropout rates and are more likely to commit crimes — meaning they are at higher risk of becoming permanent burdens to society.
Corporate Voices is very much engaged in looking at public and corporate policy issues involving workforce readiness and low-income and at-risk young people.
Publications, research studies and toolkits on a host of workforce readiness, flexibility, family economic stability, and work and family balance issues are available on the Corporate Voices Web site at www.cvworkingfamilies.org