Bleak Outlook for Youth Employment this Summer

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San Francisco youth looking to earn money or gain work experience this summer face a dismal job market. Youth employment opportunities have drastically declined due to steep competition for entry-level jobs in the private sector and deep cuts in city funding for youth jobs. This youth unemployment crisis was mitigated over the past two years by the infusion of federal stimulus funding. The expiration of this funding has left a bleak outlook for this summer, as nearly 1,000 publicly funded youth job opportunities have been lost.

Over the past two years, funds from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) enabled San Francisco to provide hundreds of summer jobs to needy youth. The Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) distributed close to $3 million in stimulus funds to programs providing youth employment opportunities. The largest of these programs, the Summer Youth Employment Program, employed 400 youth at its peak in 2009. The Human Services Agency’s Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP) and OEWD’s San Francisco Bridges to Success, also supported by stimulus funds, provided a total of 470 youth jobs in 2010.

Over the same time period, significantly reduced city revenues impacted the capacity of city-funded youth workforce development programs to provide jobs for youth. Cuts to the Mayor’s Youth Employment and Education Program alone reduced their summer service level by 275 youth. There are efforts within the city to identify sources of funding for summer youth employment opportunities, but a significant reduction in available youth jobs appears unavoidable. This summer, stimulus funds will no longer mask the impact of these cuts.