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Daley: 4,000 fewer city jobs for young workers this summer

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Young Chicago workers will compete for 14,000 jobs this summer — down 22 percent from the 18,000 positions that two rounds of federal stimulus funds helped provide in 2010.

Last year, Mayor Daley initially had 14,300 jobs to offer, 5,650 fewer than the year before. A surprise mid-summer influx of $11.1 million in additional federal stimulus money earmarked for the neediest teens and young adults subsequently boosted the overall number to 18,000.

The new jobs — for up to 10 weeks of work — went to workers between the ages of 16 and 24 whose family incomes were 200 percent below the federal poverty level. Those are the kids considered most vulnerable to the dangerous lure of gangs, drug dealing and the violence that comes with it.

This year, the summer jobs program is back down to 14,000 positions after $8.6 million in federal stimulus funds dried up. That’s even after using $1.6 million in “human infrastructure funds” provided by proceeds from the 75-year, $1.15 billion deal that privatized Chicago parking meters.

Daley appealed to Chicago business leaders to fill the breach by employing young people this summer to give them a constructive alternative to the dangerous lure of gangs, guns and drugs.

“Young people are looking for ways to grow and be productive during the summer months. A job provides an alternative to spending time in the streets. Jobs teach responsibility and keep children out of harm’s way,” Daley told a news conference at Gads Hill Center, 2653 W. Ogden.

“Not only do summer jobs provide the work experience that may lead to a career. In some cases, these jobs are needed to help families make ends meet during these very rough economic times.”

In addition to the traditional array of government and private-sector positions provided through the “Youth Ready Chicago’’ program, this year’s menu of summer jobs include four new options, including a museum internship program to expose 35 young people to the arts, science and history. The city also plans to issue a request for proposals encouraging community-based small businesses and not-for-profits to outline opportunities that provide jobs for 700 young people between the ages of 14 to 21.

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