CHICAGO, Reuters — A record-low one in four U.S. teenagers will land a summer job in the coming months as a result of a still-poor job market and lost federal funding, according to a report issued on Monday.
As a consequence, urban studies experts said cities like Chicago — where summer unemployment among African-Americans aged 16 to 19 years approaches 90 percent — could experience a rise in street violence.
“Both national and local leadership continue to ignore the plight of youth who are most at risk for potential violence as a result of being left on the streets in the summer months when crime is at its most explosive,” Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp said in a statement.
The summer employment rate among U.S. teenagers this year was projected at between 25 percent and 27 percent, based on an analysis of four decades of employment trends by Andrew Sum of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston. That would be a post-World War Two low, while as recently as 2006 the teen summer employment rate was 37 percent.
U.S. economic growth has been sluggish since the recession ended in June 2009, with job growth lagging the recovery and unemployment still at a lofty 8.8 percent.
The long-term impact of higher summer joblessness among young people is a less-experienced work force and increased government spending due to lower lifetime earnings, reduced tax revenues and higher prison costs, experts said.
In Chicago alone, nearly 700 children were hit by gunfire last year, with 66 deaths, though the city’s overall murder rate declined, said Jack Wuest, executive director of the Alternative Schools Network which commissioned the report.
“We cannot continue to ignore the correlation between youth violence and teen employment,” Wuest said. “We know if our teens are in school or at a job they are not on the streets.”
Federal stimulus dollars directed to cities and applied to summer jobs programs have run out and the funding was not renewed by Congress, meaning 18,000 more Illinois teenagers will be jobless this summer, according to the report.