NCCP Perspectives: Youth Employment

National Center for Children in Poverty

When President Obama took office in 2009, he faced the worst recession since the Great Depression. As a direct response to the economic crisis, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) introduced a series of coordinated investments in the economy with the goals of spurring job creation, increasing economic spending, and creating a new foundation for long-term prosperity for all working families. The Recovery Act increased funding for health care, education and entitlement programs by $224 billion. Specifically, states received $1.2 billion through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) youth funds to provide employment and training services targeted to disadvantaged youth. At a recent White House Briefing organized by the Office of Public Engagement, the administration announced a number of ARRA-funded job creation initiatives. Officials identified two promising priorities for future job-related investments: The TANF Emergency Contingency Fund; The Summer Youth Employment Initiative. The TANF Emergency Contingency Fund, created through ARRA with $5 billion to cover FY2009 and FY2010, helps states serve more families that seek employment opportunities and assistance during the economic downturn. The TANF Emergency Fund served as a resource for job creation by subsidizing state employment programs and initiatives (such as paid work, work-study, etc). According to recent estimates, more than 100,000 jobs will be created by the time authorization expires. The Summer Youth Employment Initiative (SYEI), implemented last summer, has enrolled 355,000 youth in summer jobs nationwide. This is a critical program not only for stimulating the local economy in depressed communities but offering income support to families through youth employment. Through SYEI, public and private employers worked with states and counties to create summer youth internships and programs that provided financial support through the summer and linked them to year-round career readiness programs and skills training for the future. The administration is currently evaluating ARRA-funding programs with an eye towards investments that have far-reaching impacts across communities and on the economy. Moving forward, the administration will focus on youth employment as a critical workforce and economic development strategy.

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National Center for Children in Poverty
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February 22, 2019