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Obama Calls on Business to Solve Teen Job Crisis

Obama Calls on Business to Solve Teen Job Crisis

With President Obama's announcement of his summer jobs program, "Summer Jobs+" today, teenage job seekers may get a boost in finding some much-needed work this year.

The summer jobs program, which was originally part of the President's American Jobs Act, which Congress has not passed, is a partnership between the Federal government and private sector in which they commit to create nearly 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth in the summer of 2012. The program's ultimate goal is to create 250,000 employment opportunities by the start of summer, at least 100,000 of which will be placements in paid jobs and internships, according to a White House press release.

The news will be most welcome in states with highest teen-unemployment rates.

According to November 2011 data from the U.S. Census Bureau the average teen-unemployment rate in the United States (ages 16 to 19) in November 2011 was 23.7 percent. Some states, however, had significantly higher rates. The five worst states for teen unemployment, plus the District of Columbia, which topped the list, were:

  • District of Columbia  48.3 percent
  • California 34.6 percent
  • Nevada 34.2 percent
  • North Carolina 33.3 percent
  • Missouri 33.1 percent
  • Washington 30.9 percent

President Obama called on businesses of every size to pitch in to help improve the teen summer employment situation by hiring teen workers this summer, a move that could help boost the nation's overall economic situation, according to one expert.

"A summer job isn't just a paycheck for a young person—it's a chance to learn skills that are crucial to their professional development," said Michael Saltsman, research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute, a nonprofit research organization studying entry-level employment issues. "With a teen-unemployment rate that's been over 20 percent for more than three years, policymakers should be looking for ways to encourage teen employment—and should avoid policies that make teens more expensive to hire," Saltsman said.

Obama has asked businesses and nonprofits to participate in the program in three ways:

  • Learn and Earn: Provide youth with jobs for the summer of 2012 in the form of paid internships and/or permanent positions that provide on-the-job training.
  • Life Skills: Provide youth with work-related soft skills, such as communication, time management and teamwork, through coursework and/or experience. This includes resume writing or interview workshops and mentorship programs.
  • Work Skills: Provide youth with insight into the world of work to prepare for employment. This includes job shadow days and internships.