Young adults aren’t looking for jobs just to be able to pay for music downloads, the latest fashions or technology gadgets, or simply to have cash to hang out with friends. As a panel of elected officials, business men and women, educators and other officials learned recently, a number of teens and 20-somethings said they have to pitch in to financially struggling households or even care for their own children.

For that, they need jobs, the youth explained at a recent hearing on youth joblessness held Jan. 24 at the Chicago Urban League on the South Side. They told how being employed is not just about having a job or a few dollars, but also having a sense of pride and even an alternative to the streets or criminal activity. 

In addition to hearing from the young adults, education and youth advocacy organization representatives talked about programs and policies that could help reduce violence in city communities.

On the day of the hearing, a new report was released by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston that outlined new information on unemployment.

The recent recession led to record high youth joblessness. Teen employment rates in Illinois dropped to just 27.8 percent in 2011-2012. At the same time, the persistent economic challenges in America, coupled with increased violence in Chicago area communities and low projections for teen summer employment in 2013, ups the need for effective program responses to address joblessness for youth and young adults in the Chicago area, according to the Urban League.

The Chicago Urban League co-sponsored the event with Illinois Council on Re-Enrolling Students Who Dropped Out of School, Youth Connection Charter School, Chicago Area Project, Black United Fund of Illinois, Westside Health Authority, Chicago Jobs Council and the Alternative Schools Network.

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