New York City Council Executive Budget Hearing – Youth Services – May 17, 2016
Chairman Eugene and other distinguished Council Members of the Committees on Youth, Finance, and Immigration, my name is Chantella Mitchell, Policy and Programs Associate at JobsFirstNYC, a policy to practice intermediary focused on the issues of young adults, ages 18-24, who are out of school and out of work. Last year, in our editorial, Opportunity Youth Missing from New York City's 2016 Fiscal Year Executive Budget, we called attention to Mayor de Blasio’s lack of investments for out-of-school, out-of-work young adults. Unfortunately, while the Mayor has proposed several new major initiatives this year, he has again neglected to announce any new investments specifically directed toward decreasing the number of young adults who are disconnected from school and work.
As reported in our policy paper, Unleashing the Economic Power of the 35 Percent, there are 172,000 18-to 24-year-olds in New York City who are neither working nor enrolled in school, and another, 133,000 who are underemployed in low-wage jobs. In his Fiscal Year 2017 Preliminary Budget Address earlier this year, Mayor de Blasio celebrated the fact that the city has seen a growth of 220,000 new jobs in the past two years, the highest two-year gain ever. However, only about 19% of New York City teens are employed – the fifth highest teen unemployment rate of any major United States metropolitan area. Where in the Administration’s strategy for unprecedented economic progress is there an intentional plan to help out-of-school, out-of-work young New Yorkers reap the benefits of these significant financial opportunities?
As is, the Mayor’s budget, not only leaves out any significant new expenditures to serve out-of-school, out-of-work young adults, but it also neglects to budget for the restoration of critical existing funds that have the potential to benefit this population such as, the $4.1 million needed for Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) to serve the same number of youth as last year while adjusting for the minimum wage increase; the $12 million in Council funds needed for a year-round youth employment program; and the $2.1 million needed for the NYC YouthBuild Project Initiative, which serves young adults who have dropped out of high school.
We are calling on the administration to invest in a comprehensive plan to reduce the number of young adults who are out of work and out of school. We applaud the Council’s recommendations that the administration increase opportunities for this population by expanding programs like Work Learn Grow to out-of-school youth, as well as the Young Women’s Initiative that has an intentional plan to serve out of work, out of school young women. However, there needs to be larger investment in alternative employment pathways specifically for this population such as sectoral programs, apprenticeships, and place-based neighborhood initiatives--that include employers, colleges and community-based organizations. We are also recommending exploration and development of a public sector employment pathways initiatives, such as those underway in Minnesota and New Mexico, and an expansion of service model programs, like Year of Service, to include targeted numbers for OSOW young adults
While the de Blasio administration continues to position itself as a champion for economic opportunity for all, the Mayor’s budget does little to meet the great need of more than 172,000 young New Yorkers – a significant portion of the city’s millenials who now make up the largest share of the American workforce. JobsFirstNYC urges the administration to invest in the future economic success of New York City by investing in the city’s future workforce. Thank you.
Chantella Mitchell, MSW
Policy & Programs Associate, JobsFirstNYC