With Chicago facing a spike in gun violence, community activists and clergy gathered Thursday morning outside the Cook County Jail to demand state funding for summer youth employment programs.
Youth advocates from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and other groups urged the governor to immediately address the lack of state funding going toward summer jobs during the budget impasse.
Summer jobs, the advocates say, are a key to combating violence. So far this year, the city of Chicago has recorded roughly 1,800 shootings and more than 300 homicides.
"Governor Rauner, this is not about politics. This is about life or death," said Parrish Brown, 20, a KOCO youth leader. "About 1,800 people have already been shot -- and it's June. Something has to be done with the violence in our communities. ... There is evidence that shows that violence decreases amongst youth when they have summer jobs and resources in their communities."
The U.S. labor market remains tough for today's young high school and college graduates, but their job prospects are brighter than they were for past groups of students who graduated in the wake of the Great Recession, finds a new analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI)
Nonetheless, recent graduates continue to experience poor wage growth as well as unemployment and underemployment rates higher than pre-recession levels, according to the liberal think tank. Unemployment rates among young college and high school graduates also remain higher for blacks and Hispanics than whites.
"Though there has been improvement since the unemployment rate for young workers peaked in 2010, the labor market has still not completely recovered," reads EPI's report. "Thus, the class of 2016 will be the eighth consecutive graduating class to enter the labor market during a period of weakness. The evidence suggests that because of their unlucky timing -- in other words, through absolutely no fault of their own -- this cohort is likely to fare poorly for at least the next decade."