When large numbers of young people are unemployed, it is not only a blow to the individuals, it is also a missed economic opportunity for the region. That was the overarching message of a panel discussion held Thursday by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and STL Youth Jobs.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that in 2012, 15 percent of people ages 16 to 24 in the U.S. were not employed, not in school or not getting job training. For each of those “detached” youth, the economy misses out on $14,000 annually.
It felt a little like a pep rally outside of Northwest Academy of Law High School in north St. Louis as about 400 students, community leaders and members of law enforcement representatives marched down Riverview Boulevard during an event geared toward reducing violence.
Banners waved and a cheerleading crew shouted things like: “We are respectable!”
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is asking businesses in the city to help put 500 young people to work this summer through a program called Stl Youth Jobs.
One corporation stepped up Wednesday.
JPMorgan Chase announced a $100,000 donation, and the company is asking other businesses to help.
"It is very important for this city that we build that base, that base of people that understand how to work, love to work and want to be part of this community," said Scott Bush, a managing director and market leader with the firm.
At first glance, veterans of the post 9/11 wars and St. Louis youth in high crime neighborhoods don't have much in common. But two things unite them: both are considered at-risk and both can have a tough time finding jobs.