Expanding Size of the Problem
Concentration of Joblessness Among Youth
This month the Department of Labor will begin recruiting unemployed youths for a wide variety of jobs in public parks, forests and recreation areas. By the end of the year nearly 8,000 young people are expected to be enrolled in the program. Thousands of other jobless youths will be put to work in community improvement projects ranging from rehabilitation of public buildings to insulation and repair of low-cost housing. These young people will be the first hired under a $1-billion youth employment and training program approved by Congress last summer. By next September 200,000 young people are expected to be working in jobs or enrolled in training programs authorized by the Youth Employment and Demonstration Projects Act of 1977. An additional 250,000 teenagers and young adults could be enrolled if Congress appropriates an additional $500-million which President Carter has requested for the program.
Community leaders, government officials and social scientists generally applauded the new program, but many caution that it will not be a cure-all for persistent high rates of joblessness among the nation's 23 million young workers (ages 16 to 24). The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than three million of them are unemployed. This age group makes up only a quarter of the nation's labor force but accounts for nearly half of the unemployed. The overall unemployment rate in the United States during September was 6.9 per cent, but far higher among the nation's teenagers (18.1 per cent) and especially among black teenagers (37.4 per cent).
Some say such statistics understate the scope of the problem. For one thing the figures do not include the scores of youngsters who become discouraged and quit looking for work. Also excluded are those who want full-time jobs but find only part-time work, and the tens of thousands of college graduates who must take jobs outside their chosen fields.