A Lack of Economic Leadership
As a result of the failed economic and fiscal policies of the Obama Administration, the nation is in the midst of the most severe and prolonged employment crisis in generations. The unemployment rate has been above 8 percent for 34 consecutive months—the longest streak since the Great Depression—and the number of Americans in poverty and using government food assistance are both at all time highs.
Young people have been particularly hard hit in the Obama economy. According to the Department of Labor, 48.8 percent of youth between the ages of 16-24 were employed in July, the month when youth employment usually peaks. This is significantly lower than the 59.2 percent of youth who were employed five years ago and 63.3 percent of youth who were employed 10 years ago. Obama’s failed economic policies hit minority youth especially hard this past summer. Only 34.6 percent of African American youth and 42.9 percent of Hispanic youth had a job this past July. In the month of November 2011 the unemployment rate for youths ages 16-19 was 23.7 percent, while the unemployment rate for African-Americans in the same age range was 39.6 percent.
Failed Stimulus Spending Has Not Solved The Problem
The Democrats’ failed $1 trillion “stimulus,” which was signed into law in February 2009, included $1.2 billion in funding for youth employment. Despite the huge spike in funding for youth job training and employment opportunities, unemployment among youth ages 16-19 spiked from 21.9 percent when the legislation was signed, to 27.1 percent in October of 2010, the highest level ever according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Between 2009 and 2011, average annual spending for all youth job programs was $3.1 billion, while unemployment for ages 16-19 averaged 24.9 percent. By comparison, annual spending for youth job programs between 2006 and 2008 averaged $2.5 billion and the unemployment rate for ages 16-19 averaged 16.6 percent. Despite the failure of the stimulus to bring down youth unemployment rates, President Obama called for $1.5 billion in rehashed stimulus spending for youth employment in September 2011 and proposed offsetting the cost with permanent tax increases.
The President’s Latest Proposal
Today, the president announced a new “call to action” called Summer Jobs+. The plan is a combination of commitments from certain federal agencies to offer work experience, internships, jobs, mentorships, and job shadow days for youths between the ages of 16-24 in the summer of 2012. In addition, the plan includes commitments from private companies to do the same. The administration also announced plans to launch a new, online summer jobs bank. While the White House is touting the creation of “nearly 180,000 employment opportunities” for low-income youths in the summer of 2012, it’s likely that many of these internships or work programs already existed and would have been available regardless of this program. While no one denies that these opportunities can be helpful, the president seems more interested in taking credit for programs that already exist than in supporting legislation that would actually help to turn the economy around.
Real Solutions Offered By House Republicans Are Blocked by Democrats
Over the past year, by following the House Republican Plan for America’s Job Creators, Republicans have guided more than 30 bipartisan jobs bills through the House and onto Senator Harry Reid’s door step. Unfortunately, 28 of these House-approved jobs bills are still being blocked or ignored by Senate Democrats, while President Obama continues to fixate more on his re-election than America’s jobs needs. The longer the president puts his job security before jobs for Americans, the higher the stack of House-approved jobs bills will get. House Republicans have acted and will continue to work to facilitate job creation. Until the president and congressional Democrats start doing their jobs, the long-term drivers of our employment crisis will not be addressed and the nation’s youth will continue to suffer.
Federal Funding for Youth Employment Programs and Results