More than a Paycheck: Reducing Inequality through Summer Jobs
Working a summer job teaches young people communication skills and fiscal responsibility, and introduces them to the basics of business. However, youth summer jobs also have the potential to improve educational outcomes and disrupt cycles of economic inequality and crime. According to a study conducted by the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), an affiliate of Case Western Reserve University, youth who participate in the SYEP summer jobs program have better school attendance, higher graduation rates, fewer juvenile delinquency filings, and lower incarceration rates in adulthood. According to this study, the benefits of a summer job extend far beyond wages earned.
All members of the workforce have felt the impacts of COVID-19, but those who were already most at risk were disproportionately impacted. Disengaged youth (ages 16 to 24) were among the hardest hit with unemployment jumping to nearly 30 percent in April 2020 as opposed to 13 percent among older adults. At this critical point in their lives, many teens are unable to find employment that builds their self-esteem and provides them with skills, experiences, and connections that can change the trajectory of their lives.
Program Director, Youth & Social Services, Cleveland Foundation
President and CEO, Youth Opportunities Unlimited
Patrick J. Kenney
Chief Operating Officer, CHN Housing Partners
CEO, The City Club of Cleveland