NEWARK – U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced Mon., Sept 12 he has cosponsored the “Urban Jobs Act of 2011,” which would provide young Americans in urban communities with job skills training and job placement services.
The bill, introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would create an Urban Jobs Program that would award competitive grants to national non-profit organizations, in partnership with local affiliates, to prepare youth ages 18 through 24 for entry into the job market. In August, the unemployment rate for this age group was 16.4 percent overall, including 30.6 percent for African Americans and 17.4 percent for Hispanics. This legislation would create training programs that range from providing instruction on office skills such as using basic computer programs, to instruction in trade skills like painting and construction.
“Joblessness is a scourge in cities across America that not only hurts our economy, but also undermines our families and fuels crime,” said Lautenberg. “Young people want to go to work and it’s our responsibility to make sure they have the skills they need to find a stable job. Creating opportunities that will make it easier for young people to learn new skills and access jobs will improve our cities and help our economy recover.”
“Unemployment for urban youth has reached a dire level – as high as 45 percent in some communities,” Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League said. “Studies show that youth unemployment can result in a lifetime of underemployment. The Urban Jobs Act not only will put young people on a path to economic empowerment, but also create a stronger economy where everyone has the opportunity to prosper. The Urban Jobs Act will be pivotal in redefining outcomes for our communities for generations to come.”
The announcement comes days after Lautenberg introduced the "21st Century WPA Act," which would establish a national job creation program modeled after President Franklin D. Roosevelt's highly successful Works Progress Administration (WPA). Lautenberg's bill would create a 21st century WPA to train and hire unemployed Americans to rebuild the country's aging schools, roads and other infrastructure.
Projects awarded funding by the 21st Century WPA would have to generate a high number of jobs per dollar of total cost, contribute to economic growth after completion, and rapidly recruit needed workers from among the ranks of people who have been unemployed for more than 60 days.
Examples of programs that could be funded by the WPA include residential and commercial building weatherization; transportation infrastructure repair and maintenance; school, library and firehouse construction; and National Park and trail maintenance.