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Summer job opportunities dwindling for teens and young adults

downtown cleveland
Posted at 9:07 AM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 09:22:03-04

CLEVELAND — A perfect storm is brewing, as budget constraints and safety concerns put popular summer workforce programs at risk.

Fallout from the coronavirus is prompting about 30% of cities nationwide to cancel plans to hire teens and young adults this summer.

“A majority of them have done that because of a lack of funding,” said Matt Zone of the Cleveland City Council.

Those temporary gigs geared toward young people are now diminishing.

“It’s one of the building blocks of society,” Zone said.

While the National League of Cities reports 70% still plan to put out the help wanted sign, there will be significantly fewer opportunities.

“We’re actually scaling back as well this year,” Zone said.

Zone said typically they hire about 1,000 teens.

“We’re going to be somewhere between 200 and 600 youth. We’re not quite certain yet,” Zone said.

Cleveland is in a holding pattern as it waits for guidance from the CDC.

“What’s the price of one life, right? I don’t want to put young people in harm’s way,” Zone said.

Typical summer opportunities to earn a paycheck and gain experience are also drying up as competition in the job market intensifies.

Those who have temporarily lost their jobs may try to get a position typically held by a teen.

The opportunity to secure a job for youth goes well beyond a paycheck.

“We want this to be a learning exercise for them,” Zone said.

Cleveland is expected to roll out its summer workforce initiative in early June.

“I’m thankful that at least we will be able to do some form of the program this year,” Zone said.

Teens, many from lower-income households, will deploy across the city to flush hydrants and repaint catch basins with clever messages.

They will not only get the chance to collect a paycheck but gain a new appreciation for the community they call home.

“It helps that child become the next generation of environmental stewards,” Zone said.

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