With nearly half of all young people between the ages of 16 and 24 unemployed, the White House today announced a $1.5 billion youth summer jobs initiative.
The program is called Summer Jobs+ and will provide job openings for 180,000 young people. The job opportunities will be hosted by both government and business. The goal is to achieve 250,000 jobs when the program is full blown.
President Obama says employment of low-income youth will be prioritized by the program. Only 34 percent of black and 42 percent of Latino youth are currently working.
Announcing the program President Obama said, "America's young people face record unemployment, and we need to do everything we can to make sure they've got the opportunity to earn the skills and a work ethic that come with a job. It's important for their future, and for America's."
The president's American Jobs Act, proposed to Congress's last session, failed to achieve passage due to staunch Republican opposition. The new program is part of Obama's We Can't Wait initiatives that bypass Congress because of GOP obstruction.
Among the businesses involved are AT&T, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, LinkedIn, Wells Fargo and Starbucks.
A new online search tool, Summer Jobs+ Bank, will be set up within 60 days to aid youth looking for work from participating employers.
Young people around the country have been circulating petitions and marching to call for specific measures to address the unemployment crisis.
The White House Council for Community Solutions issued a report that coincided with the announcement, noting that the country "shouldered more than $93 billion in direct costs and lost tax revenue to support young adults disconnected from school and work. Over the lifetime of these young people, taxpayers will assume a $1.6 trillion burden to meet the increased needs and lost revenue from this group."
"There's no replacement for the dignity that comes with earning your first paycheck," Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. "Summer jobs are good for our economy. They're good for our youth, and they're good for our country."
Bank of America, which recently paid out a historic settlement to homeowners who received discriminatory subprime loans, will provide 1,500 jobs.
In July of last year, over 4 million young people were unemployed according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Photo: White House