SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to address the growing number of out-of-school and jobless youth in Illinois, legislation sponsored by State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) passed both legislative chambers, which will create a statewide task force to develop programs and opportunities for this rapidly increasing population.
“We cannot continue to fail our young people,” said Hunter. “The first step to fixing this problem is listening to the young people who will become our next leaders. When I talk to youth in my district their number one request is to bring jobs to the community. We need to further our support for programs that will help keep our youth active and will put them to meaningful work, especially youth in communities where their only other option may be to turn to the streets.”
The University of Illinois at Chicago released a report in 2016 that states there were 190,945 youth and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 years old who were jobless and not in school in Illinois. Other studies have found 88 percent of black teens in Chicago aged 16 to 19 are unemployed. In Chicago, 85 percent of Hispanic teens in the same age range are unemployed compared to 71 percent nationwide.
“Joblessness disproportionately affects youth from communities of color,” Hunter said. “This task force is designed to put an end to the unfair cycle that treats our youth as if they’re less than. This is about creating opportunities for youth and providing them with a strong foundation for future careers during their formative years.”
The task force will examine policies, programs and other issues related to developing a variety of successful approaches using best program practices for jobless youth. They group will be required to submit an interim report to the Governor and the General Assembly, by Jan. 31, 2018, as well as a final report by Dec. 31, 2018 with its recommendations.