Michigan’s teen unemployment rate is more than double the state’s overall jobless rate.
State and local officials say limits on federal grants intended to promote youth employment are partly to blame.
State labor officials say a quarter of Michigan teens who want a job can’t find one this summer. And they say part of the problem is the number of requirements on youth employment programs that are funded with federal grants.
Michael Finney is the president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. He says the only thing that should matter is the number of people who find work through those programs.
“We should be measured on the basis those outcomes, jobs that are sustainable,” says Finney, “Instead of a bunch of activities that don’t necessarily lead to a sustainable job for individuals.”
An Obama administration official met last week with state and local leaders on youth employment.
Jay Williams is the Director of Recovery for Automotive Communities and Workers. He agreed more flexibility would be a good thing.
“We need to show and demonstrate where having flexibility provides positive outcomes (succeeds)…that’s part of why we’re having this conversation,” says Williams.
Williams says President Obama is using executive orders to allow local flexibility where possible. Otherwise the president must work with Congress to loosen restrictions.
The MEDC’s Michael Finney says the state is trying to do more to improve the teen job picture in cities like Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw, as a way to reduce crime in those communities.