During his State of the Union address, President Trump highlighted the fact that African-American unemployment is at its lowest rate since 1972. However, the 6.8% Black unemployment rate fails to capture data on some African-Americans — disproportionately young men — who are chronically unemployed and not seeking employment.
Data from Great Cities Institute’s 2017 report on youth unemployment were cited in a recent Chicago Sun-Times article detailing the plight of Chicago’s unemployed youth. The piece also notes that bringing back youth employment programs could have a positive effect on this issue, as noted by Alternative Schools Network’s founder, Jack Wuest.
Federal funding for youth employment programs first emerged in 1964, in response to the Newark, New Jersey riots. But they were eliminated by Democratic president, Bill Clinton in 2000. That federal effort once employed 700,000 to 800,000 low-income kids every summer, Wuest said. If Trump truly wanted to celebrate black history, his administration could “create a comprehensive youth summer and year-round employment program for low-income and moderate-income youth and young adults,” Wuest said in an email.
Creating such programs would likely reduce the rate of youth not working or in school, which exceeds 40% for African-American men ages 20-24 in Chicago.