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How Generation Progress Can Help Solve Youth Unemployment

by Brandon Fallon, published
This is what think tanks are for; to find solutions that Congress can then act on. Generation Progress, the part of the Center for American Progress that focuses on millennials, recently released a

report detailing possible solutions that could grease the economy so that the unemployment rate will slip down, especially for young adults.

Future leaders are among the youth of today. Today’s unemployment among millennials has a long-term effect on how much income they would bring in and therefore their economic impact on a recovery.

Aside from the obvious loss of earnings by not having a job, the longer the jobless period lasts, the loss of earnings are compounded.

Generation Progress’ first step to solving the problem facing young unemployed workers involves expanding and establishing new national service opportunities. Specifically, GP is calling on Congress to fully fund the Edward Kennedy Serve America Act.

The goal of the bill is to increase the number of AmeriCorps volunteers to 250,000 by 2017. President Obama signed it into law early in his first term, but little has changed since 2009. There are vastly more applicants than there is funding for the current 80,000 openings. These opportunities offer not just jobs, but career training while helping under-served communities.

The underwhelming impact of Obama’s American Jobs Act and his FY 2014 budget proposals also called for a Pathways Back to Work Fund. Included within the proposals are $2.5 billion for summer and year-round employment for the youngest workers.

The success behind the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that boosted summer employment by 370,000 from 2009-2010 shows that this was funding well spent.

Another part of Generation Progress’ plan is to increase investments in infrastructure. Investment is a more palatable description for fiscal conservatives than spending because it implies receiving more of a return. More efficient spending on national service, job creation, and infrastructure programs go a long way in improving local communities across the nation.

The Great Recession may have wreaked havoc on the construction industry, but infrastructure spending has been on a downward path since the 1960s.

Obama and Vice President Biden traveled to New Orleans and Panama, respectively, touting increases in manufacturing and exports. The best way for America to compete in an increasing global and interconnected economy is to get as many people to work as possible.

Unemployment, especially for those 25 and under, is an international problem. Youth unemployment in America is twice the national average. In Europe, the unemployment rate is three times what America has.

The paradox is clear: once the economy rebounds, unemployment will tick down, but to get the economy going requires efficient spending and getting people to work.

Rather than add to the bureaucracy through out of control spending, the better investment would be in human capital. A more efficient way is to increase the number of volunteer positions available at AmeriCorps and other service organizations. Volunteering not only builds character, but boosts one’s resume as well.

Generation Progress' suggestions were based on either legislation that passed or is in the works. In any case, big problems like this require major solutions, or else American youth could mirror what is happening in Europe now.

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