Local Government Leaders Prioritize Youth Employment

The L.A. Compact has long championed the importance of youth jobs programs in providing young adults with early skill- and resume-building work experiences to successfully launch them into the labor force. Now that we are facing the worst economic recession in a century, subsidized jobs will serve as a life-line for thousands of young adults who have been laid off, who live in families who are ineligible for federal relief benefits, and who are struggling to maintain connections to school. At least 14,500 young adults in L.A. County will access a paid work experience this year thanks to budget motions passed recently by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and L.A. City Council that were strongly supported by L.A. Compact partners.

On July 7, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion championed by Supervisors Hilda L. Solis and Kathryn Barger to invest $20.7 million in the 2020-21 Fiscal Year for the Youth@Work program. The program will provide virtual career exploration and on-site work experiences for at least 10,000 youth ages 14-24. On July 1, the L.A. City Council approved Councilman Curren Price’s plan to reduce the LAPD budget by $150 million and redirect $100 million into communities of color, including an additional $10 million for the annual Hire LA’s Youth program. The city funding augments a previous investment of $2.8 million for the 2020-21 Fiscal Year, enabling at least 4,500 young Angelenos to access subsidized work experiences this year.

When the County’s Youth@Work program was slated for severe cuts in May, L.A. Compact partners from the L.A. Workforce Systems Collaborative and the L.A. Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC) rallied to protect investments in youth who have been disproportionately impacted by layoffs due to COVID-19 and will find it even harder to enter the workforce as the economy begins to reopen. Several current and former foster youth who participate in the OYC Young Leaders Program provided public comment at the County Board of Supervisors meeting, speaking to the critical importance of programs like Youth@Work that often serve as a young person’s first work experience. 

UNITE-LA, convener of the L.A. Compact, and the Alliance for Children’s Rights, convener of the L.A. OYC, have been working closely with City and County partners since May to reimagine the annual summer jobs program in response to COVID-19. In the City of L.A., youth participants will have opportunities to participate in paid virtual activities exploring careers in entrepreneurship through a partnership with L.A. Unified, as well as in STEAM fields through a partnership with UNITE-LA. Most youth will participate in an extended virtual training program utilizing the trauma-informed Transition-Age Youth World of Work curriculum that was developed, piloted and championed by OYC partners. For the first time through a new partnership with ZipRecruiter, youth will receive specialized training in online job search strategies.

L.A. Unified seniors who have not yet completed their credits to graduate will have the opportunity to enroll in a “learn and earn” option that pairs credit recovery with paid work experience. Youth over the age of 18 will still have the opportunity for traditional work experiences, with appropriate PPE, focused on rebuild and recovery projects. For a complete summary of the reimagined Hire LA’s Youth program for the summer of 2020, click here.

The idea for the L.A. Compact first began to take hold in 2008, just as the country was entering into the worst economic recession since the 1930s. By 2011, the unemployment rate for 20-24 year-olds in L.A. County was 20 percent - double that of the adult workforce. 16-19 year-olds fared even worse at 40 percent unemployment. It took nearly a decade for young adult unemployment to fall to 10 percent.1 All signs indicate that this progress was completely eviscerated over the last four months. Nearly 30 percent of 20-24 year-olds in California who were working before the COVID-19 pandemic filed for unemployment in March and April.2 L.A. Compact partners are working hard to implement lessons learned from the last Great Recession to ensure that young adults are not left behind as our economy recovers.

1All unemployment statistics in this paragraph taken from U.S. Census Bureau (2011, 2018). Employment Status, 2011-2018 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Retrieved from https://data.census.gov/

2Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. (May 11, 2020). COVID-19 Economic Implications Briefing [PowerPoint slides]. https://laedc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/LAEDC_Economic-Implications-of-COVID-19_2020.04.06-1.pdf

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