Tuesday, September 16, 2014


WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the “Employ Young Americas Now Act,” legislation that would fix our country’s youth jobs crisis.

Rep. John Conyers. Jr. and
Sen. Bernie Sanders
The Employ Young Americans Now Act will provide $5.5 billion in immediate funding to states and localities to employ one million young Americans between the ages of 16 and 24, and provide job training to hundreds of thousands of young Americans.  The legislation also allocates $4 billion in grant funding to the U.S. Department of Labor to create summer and year-round employment opportunities for low-income youth and another $1.5 billion in competitive grants for work-based training.

The youth unemployment rate in the United States for 16- to 19-year-olds was 19.6 percent in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The African-American youth unemployment rate is 32.8 percent. 

“Nearly six million young Americans are neither in school nor working,” said Conyers.  “This is a national emergency that demands immediate federal action.  By empowering states, local communities, nonprofits, and small businesses to train and hire young Americans, this legislation will restore financial security, productivity, and dignity.  Our economy and society are strongest when our young people enjoy decent opportunity.”

“The most serious crisis facing this country is the lack of decent-paying jobs, particularly when it comes to young Americans,” Sanders said.  “If young high school graduates are unable to find entry-level jobs, how will they ever be able to develop the skills, the experience and the confidence they need to break into the job market?”

Sanders and Conyers emphasized that youth unemployment has long-term consequences.  Today, more than5.8 million young Americans have either dropped out of high school or graduated from high school and have no jobs.  Unemployment can equate to lower lifelong earnings and productivity for affected workers.  Recent academic studies have shown that people who experience early bouts of unemployment suffer 10 to 15 % lower wages than their peers.  These “wage scars” have been demonstrated to last upwards of 20 years.                                                                                                             

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is a cosponsor of the Senate bill.  “High unemployment hits our communities and families hard, and it is particularly devastating for teens and young adults who are denied the opportunity to get the basic job skills they need to go on to college and get a good paying job,” she said.  “This legislation is an investment in our young adults who just need the chance to prove themselves and get ahead.”

In the House, the Employ Young Americans Now Act is cosponsored by Representatives Charles Rangel (NY-13), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), John Lewis (GA-05), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Elijah Cummings (MD-07), Terri Sewell (AL-07) and Frederica Wilson (FL-24).

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), United Automobile Workers (UAW), the United Steelworkers of America, Campaign for America’s Future and the National Employment Law Project have also expressed support for this critical legislation.

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