Target: Thomas Perez, United States Secretary of Labor
Goal: Create informed policy targeted at keeping long-term unemployed youth from slipping through the cracks
Young people have been among the hardest hit by the recession. Roughly 16% of Americans aged 15-24 are currently unemployed, a number twice the national average. For minority youth, and those without college degrees, the numbers are even more bleak. The Atlantic recently published an article suggesting that the cause is young peoples’ unwillingness to settle, and that this actually “bodes well for our future;” but research indicates that unemployment among youth is in fact a public health crisis contributing to increased depression and drug use.
While the Atlantic article phrases the issue as “a sign of ambition and expectation,” a youth charity based in the United Kingdom claims the exact opposite is true. The Prince’s Trust conducted thousands of interviews and found “40 per cent of jobless young people have faced these symptoms of mental illness – including suicidal thoughts, feelings of self-loathing and panic attacks – as a direct result of unemployment.” Nearly one in ten youth interviewed had become so demoralized that they saw nothing to live for.
Ten million young Americans are currently struggling to find full-time work. This means lost earnings and productivity, default on student loans, and dreams put on hold. But these young people have a great deal to contribute to their communities and their nation. Demand that the Department of Labor address this epidemic by creating policy that engages unemployed youth, harnessing their experience and energy while helping them provide for a better future.
Dear Thomas Perez, United States Secretary of Labor,
Roughly 10 million youth are currently unemployed or underemployed in America. The youth jobless rate is twice the national average, and much higher for people of color and those without college degrees. The jobs that are available are often low-paying, and require few skills. According to the Center for American Progress, “Businesses will consequently suffer from reduced consumer demand, and taxpayers will feel the impact in the form of lost revenues, greater demand for more government-provided services such as health care, increased crime, and more welfare payments.” Clearly, something must be done.
Young people have so much to offer, and yet their potential is languishing in hopelessness, poverty and dead-end jobs. We can’t let today’s youth become a “lost generation,” and with 1.4 million teens neither working nor in school, the risk is indeed real. Existing programs like Job Corps should be expanded; but a variety of collaborative solutions are needed in order to turn this trend around. I urge you to create informed policy targeting American youth aged 16-25 who lack full-time work, creating opportunities for them to contribute meaningfully to their communities while providing a basic income.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers via Flickr