State Senator Hunter encourages more opportunity for youth employment

SPRINGFIELD, IL – In 2011, national youth employment was at its lowest level in post- World War II history at 26 percent.  A Senate Resolution sponsored by State Senator Mattie Hunter (D – Chicago) urges Congress to pass legislation that would invest in youth employment opportunities that benefit both young individuals and communities.  The Senate Resolution recently passed out of the Senate State Government and Veteran’s Affairs Committee. 

“Studies have shown that teens that have steady employment during their high school years are less likely to drop out of school and are more likely to have higher earnings in their twenties,” Hunter said.  “I know that unemployment is effecting every generation, but we must invest in
our youth to allow them the opportunity to gain a stable work ethic and to gain experience to build a resume.” 

Senate Resolution 596 urges Congress to pass the $5 billion Pathways Back to Work legislation.  The legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative George Miller and in the Senate by Senator Richard Blumenthal.  The funding would be allocated
for summer and year-round employment, education, and training.  Pathways Back to Work is an expansion on the $1.2 billion President Obama and Congress allocated to summer youth employment in the 2009 stimulus that employed over 330,000 youth nationwide. 

At the state level, youth unemployment in Illinois last year was 73 percent for teenagers 16 to 19 years old, with minority teens experiencing the heaviest unemployment rates.  Senator Hunter recently introduced Senate Bill 3660 moving the Youth Empowerment Program to the
Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  The program would provide competitive grants for local community-based non-profits, educational facilities, and government agencies to hire up to 5,000 low-income youths each summer.  Each youth, age 14-21, would be given a stipend of
$7.50 an hour up to 200 hours over a 10-week period.

“Families are struggling, and teens want to get involved in helping their families financially,” Hunter continued.  “Not only will they be able to give assistance in their home finances if necessary, but they will also be off the streets and in an environment encouraging personal
and community growth.”