Andrew Sum, Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University and Paul Harrington, Director, Center for Labor Markets and Policy, Drexel University, writing for the Huffington Post, offered their own version of a progressive State of the Union address that President Obama should have offered last week:
“Our nation’s teenagers and many young adults ages 20-29 are working at a considerably lower rate today than at any time since the end of World War Two. Absence of work experience in the teen years and early 20s prevents our youth from acquiring marketable occupational skills, solid work habits, the soft skills demanded by employers, and opportunities to interact with adults and observe the skills and behaviors needed to succeed at work. Absence of early work experience will reduce their employment, wages, and training opportunities in their mid 20s. These problems are not confined to young adults lacking college degrees. Too many of our new college graduates are left either jobless or holding jobs that do not utilize the skills and knowledge that they acquired in college, reducing the return on their human capital investments and those of society.
A variety of actions are needed to improve the employment prospects of these young workers. We will work with states and local workforce development boards to expand internship opportunities and paid employment of high school students both year round and during the summer, increase the hiring of career specialists to prepare them to make the transition from high school to the world of work, and work with the nation’s employers to expand new youth apprenticeship opportunities, and provide subsidized employment in the summer for the nation’s jobless at-risk youth. We also will experiment with employer wage subsidies to promote the full-time employment of out-of-school youth, and we shall work with colleges and universities to provide additional internships and cooperative education positions for our college students to facilitate their transition to the labor market upon graduation.”
I realize I dropped the ball on providing a summary of the great ideas out of the Joint Economic Committee’s hearing on Avoiding a Lost Generation: How to Minimize the Impact of the Great Recession on Young Workers. Young workers are facing record high unemployment and make up a disproportionate share of the unemployed.
With statistics like these, we need every good idea we can get. Arranged by originator:
Dr. Till von Watcher, Columbia University
- Combine the delivery of unemployment benefits with better job steering and training programs.
- Help young workers help themselves by giving them the information they need regarding projected future job growth and regionalization of industries – much of this information is already compiled by government agencies, but difficult to access and use.
- Provide young workers vouchers for training, so its more affordable and possible.
- Bring employers back into the discussion.
- Increase the mandatory schooling age past 16, which was set for factory work. Increasing the age will help them enter the workforce later with more skills.
- Encourage partnerships between pools of small businesses and community colleges to provide training programs.
Dr. Harry Holzer, Georgetown University
- Better connecting workforce development programs with education system.
- Expand summer youth employment programs beyond summer months.
- Increase the quality and quantity of training and certificate degree programs.
- Better targeted efforts to employ those that are the most disadvantaged, including expanding public service employment opportunities for these young workers.
- Tax credits for training and hiring young workers, to make it more affordable.
- Encouraging students to go to training or certificate programs rather than college does not need to be seen as a bad thing, if those workforce development programs provide a clear pathway to success.
- Good paying jobs for those with skills, but less formal education, still exist – but our education system does not push students to them.
- We need to do something about the fact that once you are incarcerated and released, you are essentially unemployable.
David Jones, Community Service Society of NY
- Tax credits for small businesses for hiring young workers.
- Federal transportation dollars should be used to hire young workers.
- Better enforcement of statutes that encourage hiring of young workers, like housing authority regulations.
- Subsidies for young workers to afford community colleges and technical training schools.
- Summer employment programs must offer real jobs to prepare young workers for entering the labor market and must connect to potential jobs later on.
Stephen Wing, CVS Caremark
- Go into elementary and secondary schools to begin educating students about different jobs, so they can orient for the proper pathway to that job early.
- Partnerships between foundations, government, the community, and businesses is crucial.
- Young people will stick with the training programs if they feel they are learning real skills that will increase their opportunities.
and then some not-so-great ideas:
James Sherk, Heritage Foundation
- End the minimum wage.
- Strip out all labor market protections because they limit job growth.
Yesterday, Pew released a study showing that 23% of the 15million unemployed Americans have been unemployed for longer than a year. The fiscal and economic effects of such a high number of very long-term unemployed is significant, but more than simple numbers it has the power to change the nature of American society.
Monday’s Wall Street Journal introduced us to a new trend: downward mobility of an entire generation. As this blog has noted before, studies have show than parent’s unemployment affects the earnings of their children when they enter the labor market. As the WSJ notes, not only do families suffer through the immediate effects of limited income, but when children of long-term unemployed parents look to go to college, they incur a great deal of debt. Because just because our economy has tanked, the cost of higher education has increased. Studies have shown that college debt pushes big items like purchasing a first-home, settling into a career path, and getting married to later in life. While the current recession might make young workers financially smarter than their parents, it won’t mean much if the never get the start-up money to begin the functions of later adult life. Essentially, this current recession will have dramatic effects on the future of this country.
The WSJ article prompted Stephen Gandel, of Time’s The Curious Capitalist, to conclude that the expected inflation that would result in additional federal spending to put Americans back to work is a lesser evil than long-term unemployment. Absolutely.
For all the talk by conservatives that they are fighting for young worker’s future by limiting federal spending when its most needy, thanks for your concern but its time you stopped worrying so much about young workers’ futures as your own kids who won’t be able to afford college or find a job or secure a mortgage or have the necessary income to marry.