Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois
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Rush Introduces "SAY YEA" Jobs Bill H.R. 1901,the "Saving America's Youth: The Youth Employment Act"

May 13, 2011
Press Release

CONTACT: Renee Ferguson
(773) 224-6500 ofc.; (202) 674-0891 mobile
Renee.Ferguson@mail.house.gov
- or -
Sharon Jenkins
(202) 225-4372 ofc.; (202) 431-8191 mobile
Sharon.Jenkins@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON –– As the summer season approaches and at a time when, last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than half (51 percent) of the young people who were looking for summer jobs couldn’t find them, today, U. S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL-01) proudly introduced comprehensive youth jobs legislation while asserting his strong belief in the value of investing in America’s future—its young people.  The bill has eight original co-sponsors.

Rush’s “SAY YEA” legislation would provide $6.5 billion dollars for youth employment while offering tax incentives for businesses that hire employees ages 16 to 21 years of age.  It funds a national public service employment program that focuses on jobs in parks, education and rebuilding infrastructure.  Rush views this legislation as a reasonable and responsible down payment on America’s future—millions of young people whose lives are full of promise but whose future productivity in the U.S. economy is heavily dependent on their ability to enter the workforce.  “SAY YEA” is designed to help young people develop the ‘must have’ skills and work ethic needed to survive and, even, thrive in the 21st century workforce.  “SAY YEA” also includes tax incentives for employers who hire disadvantaged youth.

“My number one goal in seeking support for this legislation is to ensure that America puts its money where its heart should be—in its future, our youth—so that we don’t produce a generation who, due to lack of ever having a job, come to view that as a normal state of being.  It isn’t a normal state of being!  I refuse to sit idly by while we invest in all sorts of well financed sectors at a time when a new generation of young people—especially in low-income communities—are at risk for never, ever having a job.  I believe our country is better than that and I will keep fighting to ensure that a youth jobs agenda is front and center in our national priorities.”

The disappointing fact of the matter is that too many millions of youth are suffering due to lack of jobs and an education and training support network that’s focused on helping young people successfully access gateway opportunities into the work force.  In August, 2009, the unemployment rate for Americans between the ages of 16 and 19 had reached a Depression-era level of 25.5 percent.  That percentage, which translated into an estimated 1.5 million unemployed youth, was the highest level it had ever been in the 50-plus years that the U. S. Labor Department has been tracking those records.  That unemployment needle has barely moved.

For the month of April, 2011, the Labor Department reported that the same unemployment rate had moved downwards, but by only less than one percentage point.  These numbers mean that 1 out of 4 young people are currently out of work.  And, for African American and Hispanic American youth, in particular, those numbers may reach as high as 40 percent unemployment, meaning almost 1 out of 2 young people would not have jobs.

Rush is helping to lead a “National Rally and March for Youth Investment” in Washington, D.C., on May 19, led by a coalition of Chicago-based and national youth and civil rights organizations.  Young people from across the U.S. are expected to attend as they signal their intent to continue to press federal lawmakers to support H.R. 1901 and similar initiatives aimed at generating jobs and helping them succeed in the workforce.

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NOTE:  Posted below is a link to a pdf copy of the legislation as introduced with eight original co-sponsors.  Also, please visit www.Thomas.gov to check for updates on the progress of this legislation.