Emergency youth summer jobs act poorly timed

In response to the worst oil spill in global history, Congress is currently passing an emergency appropriations bill to provide additional funding for environmental agencies, as well as extra resources to fund summer jobs for teens. Yes, lumped together in the Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act of 2010 is one problem that deserves Congress? emergency efforts and another that is neither emergent nor something to be addressed in mid-May. This randomly constructed legislation is currently waiting for Senate approval after passing through the House at the end of March.

Yes, teenage employment is on a drastic downturn; this year marks one of the lowest rates of employment among 16-19 year-olds on record, according to the Department of Labor. However, there is an overwhelming ineffectiveness in the timing of the Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act. According to the current text of the act, $600 million will be taken from other sources to fund state grants for summer youth employment, all of which must be accounted for within the current fiscal year. But the current fiscal year, much like the summer, ends in September. While providing jobs for teenagers should de a priority within the Department of Labor, proposing this money in May is impractical and ultimately ineffective. Once the Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act is officially passed, the summer will have begun and by the time the proposed funds are actually distributed, the summer will be at least halfway over. For the thousands of unemployed American teens, mid-summer is too late to begin joining job-placement organizations.

Additionally, the funds to be given to these summer employment grants will be reallocated from a number of sources worthy of keeping their funding, including the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program, the Department of Agriculture?s Rural Developments Program and the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Program, which was originally scheduled to be completed by June 2009. Removing money promised to environmental and economic programs to fund other environmental and economic programs, albeit addressing diverse parts of these two areas, is counterproductive. Instead, the Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act should be taking money from sources under completely different jurisdictions, as opposed to bureaucratically shifting money from program to overlapping program.

Finally, this legislation threatens the success of the various environmental groups? progress in cleaning up the oil spill. This international incident causes increasingly permanent environmental damage everyday that resources, such as those provided by the Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act, are missing. Without the attached employment portion of the act, the disaster relief portion would move through Congress much faster, decreasing the permanent effects of this spill.

Summer jobs are essential in today?s economy, as they provide teenagers, especially those at-risk, with opportunities to gain work experience. But the Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act of 2010 is not stimulating youth employment programs in the right way. If this legislation was separated from emergent oil spill funds and given time for careful allocation of funds, summer job rates could increase across the U.S.