Back in November 2013, the House’s bill calling for $40 Billion in cuts to SNAP is in part meant to target a select group of recipients: single, child-less, able-bodied, unemployed adults.
6 million in this category are aged 16-24, and their unemployment rate is 16.2%–more than double the national average. They need jobs.
15% of 16-24 year olds are not working and are not in school. This unemployment/out-of-school rate is worse if you’re black, 43.1%, and even worse if you’ve just left the juvenile justice system, 70%. They need jobs and supports to ensure they continue and invest in their education.
Even if you are employed at an entry-level position, working full-time at minimum wage, you’re still living in poverty and relying on government assistance to make ends meet. Why are taxpayers subsidizing a business’s decision not to pay a living wage?
Typical house-hold income hasn’t risen in 20 years, and if you’re aged 16-24, the average income has actually fallen in the last few years. At the same time, tuition costs are rising, health care costs are rising, energy costs are rising, further hindering their ability to realize their full potential, to start families, to fully contribute to the economy.
Even if 16-24 year olds are working, about half of college graduates are working positions that do not require a four-year degree, and 37% are in jobs that do not even require a high school diploma. They need employers who will invest in training and skill building to bridge the gap between their education and the employer’s needs.
Along with the proposed SNAP cuts, federal youth jobs programs have been cut by $1 Billion over the past 10 years. In 1979, an average young worker received an average of 2 1/2 weeks of training a year from their employer. In 2011, just 21% reported any training during the past five years. The minimum wage at that time: about $9 an hour in 2013 dollars.
Young, single, child-less, able-bodied adults should not need assistance, but if we don’t want them using SNAP, they need jobs, and jobs that invest in them through higher wages, training, and skill-building. When the economy is working against their ability to live up to their full potential as contributing members to society, we need job bills. We need job bills especially for those less likely to have opportunities and to be invested in, including people of color, disconnected youth, and those leaving the juvenile justice system.
- Read “The High Cost of Youth Unemployment” by Sarah Ayers, Center for American Progress
- Read “Study: 15 percent of US youth out of school, work” by Philip Elliott, Associated Press
- Read “Youth Unemployment: Generations Jobless” from The Economist
- Learn more facts about poverty, employment, and wages at the Opportunity Index here.
- Read Matt Bors’ whole column, “Can We Stop Worrying About Millennials Yet?” here.
- Learn more about the Documentary, “Inequality for All” here.