Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton Boosts Summer-Job Goal for Youths in 100 Cities

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton Boosts Summer-Job Goal for Youths in 100 Cities

Article excerpt

AS part of its effort to help America's inner cities, the Clinton administration has proposed doubling funds for youth summer jobs.

The $2 billion program would put 1.3 million disadvantaged youths to work. In announcing the plan this week, Labor Secretary Robert Reich said careful monitoring would minimize "make-work" so that youths learn valuable skills.

"The United States is developing a third world within its own borders, in many of our central cities, where a growing number of uneducated Americans are only tenuously connected to the national economy," Mr. Reich said.

In addition to summer jobs, President Clinton's urban agenda includes proposals for tax-advantaged "enterprise zones" and community development banks.

While some experts laud the move to expand the summer-jobs program, others say the administration should emphasize private-sector job-creation.

Clinton has called for the private sector to voluntarily match the 1.3 million youth jobs to be created under his plan.

"A lot of firms look on it as a civic duty" to employ high school students in the summer, says Carlos Bonilla, economist with the Employment Policies Institute, a research group in Washington. But he says some White House plans would make it tougher for employers to provide such jobs, much less the permanent entry-level jobs sought by youths who are not college bound.

The White House, for example, is expected to seek a hike in the minimum wage from its current level of $4.25 an hour - a move that would discourage hiring, Mr. Bonilla says. Even a modest, 10-percent hike in the minimum wage could reduce employment by 1 or 2 percent, based on historical patterns, he says.

Moreover, the president's forthcoming health-care reform plans may include requiring businesses to expand health benefits, an additional disincentive to hiring, Bonilla says.

The summer-jobs program offers needed opportunity to inner-city youths, says Demetra Nightingale, a senior researcher at the Urban Institute in Washington. …

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