UPDATE 12/3/12 @ 8:45 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Out of school and without a job -- that’s the reality for nearly 56,000 West Virginians between the ages of 16 and 24.
That information is according to new data released by KIDS COUNT, West Virginia.
Michael Tanner, 18, falls into that category. He’s out of school, with no job and no place to call his own.
“It’s tough,” Tanner said. “I’m not an optimistic person. My girlfriend says I need to work on that, so I’m trying.”
Margie Hale is the KIDS COUNT director in West Virginia. She says it’s a problem, fueled by the economy, that’s just snowballing.
“These are people who can’t get jobs, who aren’t paying taxes, so we’re all picking up the bill,” Hale said. “The economy has older people holding on to jobs longer, which makes it tough for young people to break into entry level jobs.”
There are more factors, as well. Following is some information from Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity:
“Often described as disconnected youth, they encounter greater competition from older workers for increasingly scare entry level jobs, especially in light of the recession and a lack of a higher skills set required for the well paying jobs that are available. They often don’t graduate from high school on time or are ready for college, further decreasing their employment options. Many contend with hurdles beyond their control, such as growing up in poverty, having few working adults as role models, attending low performing school and living with a single parent.”
“This isn’t news to me,” says Terrance Hubbard who heads up an alternative education program called Youth Build in Huntington to get kids back in school.
The program has children in class during half a day and on a job site for the other half. He says a big problem is a lack of communication.
“There’s other opportunities for young adults to get and education and get good training skills,“ Hubbard said. “I think we need to do a better job of letting students know what their options are.”
According to KIDS COUNT, only 40 percent of youths held a job in 2011 -- compared to 53 percent in 2000.
The KIDS COUNT report released Monday says 40 percent of West Virginians ages 16 to 24 held a job in 2011. That's down from 53 percent in 2000. About 50 percent of young people nationally were employed in 2011, compared to 60 percent in 2000.
According to the report, these young people face growing competition from older workers for entry-level jobs. They also don't have the skills required for available well-paying jobs.
The report recommends developing a national youth employment strategy, employer-sponsored earn-and-learn programs, and aligning resources to create collaborative efforts to support youth.