When asked why he became involved, Peters referenced a recent report authored by Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, whom he’s heard speak a number of times on the subject of the importance of employment opportunities for young people. He said Sum’s message has always been consistent — and strong.
“The statistics show that a kid who’s employed during the summer … his chances for success going into life are so much better, because that job becomes a foundation for what work is all about,” said Peters. “They learn how you deal with an employer, how you save a little money … the things you need to learn.”
Ward said the Sum study — subtitled “The Case for Increased Youth Workforce Development” — verifies the importance of creating job opportunities for young people, and especially those who are at risk, while offering some chilling statistics about how the numbers of such opportunities are going down when they need to go up. Among the main findings:
- “The labor market for teens in Massachusetts and the nation remains extraordinarily depressed,” Sum writes. “Last year , only 27% of the teens ages 16-19 in our state were employed during an average month. This is the lowest teen employment rate in our state’s history over the past 45 years. Twice as many teens worked in 1999 as in 2012 (54% vs. 27%).
- “Despite job growth in our state and the nation over the past few years, teen employment has continued to decline,” he went on. “From 2010 to 2012, approximately 56,000 more working-age residents became employed in our state, while teen employment fell by 15,000. Across the nation, total employment increased by 5.05 million between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first two months of 2013, while teen employment fell by 12,000 over the same time period.
- “While all demographic and schooling groups of teens have experienced steep drops in their employment rates over the past decade,” he went on, “the youngest teens, males, blacks and Hispanics, and high-school students, especially low-income students, have fared much worse.”