*The letter below is on behalf of organizations, not individuals. Please do not sign if you are not authorized to do so by your organization.
Dear President Obama,
The undersigned organizations are writing to thank you for your attention to the continued need for job creation, and in particular for the proposed funding in your fiscal year 2014 budget blueprint for the Pathways Back to Work Fund. Such funding would support employment and job training opportunities for the long-term unemployed and low-income adults and youth, who are at great risk of being left behind as the economy recovers from the Great Recession. We urge you to work with Congress to ensure that the proposed $12.5 billion for Pathways Back to Work becomes law. This proposal includes $8 billion for subsidized employment opportunities and support services for unemployed, low-income adults; $2.5 billion for summer and year-round employment opportunities for low-income youth, ages 16-24; and $2 billion for work-based employment strategies with demonstrated effectiveness, such as on-the-job training, sector-based training and programs that integrate basic skills instruction and occupational skills training.
Investing in such strategies is critical and timely. Nearly two out of five unemployed workers have been jobless for six months or more, and studies show that workers who have been unemployed for long periods find it increasingly difficult to secure employment. Individuals with low education and skill levels continue to experience unemployment rates that are significantly higher than those of more educated workers. Youth and young adults continue to face the worst jobs prospects since the Great Depression, with little progress since our recent recession ended. Today, one in four African Americans between ages 18 and 24 is looking for a job, but cannot find one, as are more than one in seven Hispanic young adults. Meanwhile, 6.7 million youth are neither employed nor in school. Without targeted efforts to connect unemployed youth to jobs, paid work experience, education, and training, youth and young adults will likely spend the better part of a decade with few opportunities to work, gain skills, or earn family sustaining wages. These trends carry long-term consequences not only for these workers and their families, but for our country’s long-term economic growth and competitiveness.
Subsidized and transitional jobs and work-based employment strategies are proven strategies that provide unemployed adult workers and youth entering the workforce the opportunity to earn wages, build skills, and connect to the labor market, while also giving businesses an incentive to hire new employees when they might not have been able to do so otherwise. Subsidized employment programs have a track record of contributing to the employment and earnings gains of individuals and families, contributing to the economic health of communities and benefiting employers. Pathways Back to Work would build on the effective 2009 federal investments in job creation under the Recovery Act that put over half a million youth and adults to work and provided them with critical job-training, leadership skills and needed social supports. These programs increased personal and family income and directly benefited employers by lowering the cost of hiring new employees, increasing business productivity, financial well-being, and customer satisfaction.
As you promote broad job creation efforts, we urge you to highlight these approaches, recognize those communities that are operating successful subsidized employment programs for youth and adults, and reinforce to Congress and the nation the urgency of taking action to implement job creation efforts that will put our unemployed adults and youth back to work.