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Mayor Mike McGinn left office on January 1, 2014.
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City of Seattle

April 12, 2:50 PM click here to comment > 0

Helping our youth get the employment experience they need to succeed

A young person’s first job is an important step on their path to adulthood and independence. Unfortunately, many of today’s young people don’t have the same employment opportunities that previous generations did.  Due to the Great Recession, drop in federal support for youth employment programs, and increasing competition for fewer spots, today’s youth unemployment rates are the highest since before World War II. Nationwide, youth unemployment is over 16%. In Washington State, unemployment is 17.3% for ages 20-24 and 34.1% for youth ages 16-19. At the same time, many local industries say their greatest hindrance to growth is lack of a skilled workforce.

This situation is unacceptable. In response, President Obama launched the Summer Jobs Plus program, to work with the private sector to step up and fill the youth employment gap. Locally, we are launching our own program, called Youth @ Work, partnering with the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County and the private sector. The goal is to increase the number of summer jobs, internships, and job shadow opportunities available for our young people.

Today my office participated in a conference call with President Obama, other mayors, and local government staff from around the country to discuss this situation and our response.  President Obama rightly identified that early experiences shape the trajectory of a person’s life. They can give a sense of opportunity and possibility, and combat the corrosive effect that despair and lack of hope have on individuals and communities. In addition, work experiences help keep kids in school, teach them about the world of work, and help them make better decisions about the careers they want to have and the training they need to get there.  Summer youth employment also give our region’s employers talent for the long term: today’s youth are our region’s future workforce.

To get involved in Youth @ Work, please contact Aaron Fishbone at

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn