Hank Johnson has helped the Barack Obama administration take the first step to curb rampant unemployment among Black teens across the country, including the congressman’s 4th District, which covers most of DeKalb County.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed funding that would give $600 million, including more than $18 million in Georgia, to the Summer Youth Jobs Program. The program needs approval in the U.S. Senate before the money is available.
“It’s clear that the African-American community is bearing the brunt of this recession, as 39.3 percent of Black teens in my district are unemployed,” Johnson said in a teleconference on April 9. “This will allow us to be able to directly tackle the problem of youth unemployment in Georgia.”
The national unemployment rate for all American teens is 26 percent, Jared Bernstein, chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, said in the teleconference.
“This is particularly important when the unemployment rate among teens is so high,” Bernstein said. “This program sets off teens on a career path and provides training and work readiness.”
If funding is approved, the program would create about 200,000 jobs nationwide, Bernstein said. He said depending on how swiftly the Senate takes action, the money is expected to be available at the beginning of the summer. Last year’s Recovery Act created 300,000 jobs for teens.
Johnson said the funding will create more than 4,000 jobs for teens in the 4th District. He also stressed the importance of the census and urged residents to fill out and return the forms to give an accurate account of the employment picture in Georgia.
“It’s important for us to make sure we have a full and accurate account in the census,” Johnson said. “This is the kind of federal program that is reliant upon figures derived from the census count.”
With jobs created in administration and clerical work, maintenance, education, recreation and other areas, Johnson is confident the Summer Youth Jobs Program will play a part in the county’s economic recovery.
“I’m sure we’ll see an uptick in the number of people seeking employment,” Johnson said.
The money will be made available through the U.S. Department of Labor and filter down to individual states, based on demographics.