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Promoting Youth Employment in Maryland

by George W. Liebmann

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Our current governor has paid no attention to the severe problem of youth unemployment in Maryland. The national rate of youth unemployment is about twice the general rate of unemployment, and the rate among blacks twice that among the total youth population: 40 percent, resembling London’s neighborhoods where there were major civic disturbances among the Afro-Caribbean population. The proposition that “idle hands do the devil’s work” is familiar: “flash mobs” have organized on the Internet in American cities like Philadelphia.

Maryland’s September 2009 Report of the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board noted that the state had 21,000 youth aged 16 through 19 without high school diplomas who were not in school, two-thirds of whom were unemployed. Among 20-year-old dropouts, 92 percent were not continuing their education and only 55 percent were working. Seventy-four thousand Marylanders aged 16 to 24 were out of school and out of work in 2006, a number that has since increased. Nine percent of the state’s 20 to 24 year olds were institutionalized, including 25 percent of black males in this age grouping.

While Maryland alone cannot cure the macroeconomic causes of youth unemployment, the state can take steps to alleviate it.

 

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