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Unemployed young people in Cuyahoga cost economy $927 million a year, report shows

December 3, 2018

Unemployed young people in Cuyahoga cost economy $927 million a year, report shows

CLEVELAND, Ohio – One out of every seven young adults in Cuyahoga County is unemployed, not in school and not on a path to make themselves productive, according to a new report by the Center for Community Solutions in Cleveland.

That’s bad for them and bad for the community: These young people, ages 16 to 24, cost the local economy about $927 million per year.

Research by the Center for Community Solutions estimates there are 21,000 young people in this category in Cuyahoga. It calls them “disengaged youth” because they’re not employed either full time or part time, and aren’t in high school or any kind of college or trade school.

Some of them come from upper-income families in the suburbs, but most disengaged youth come from “impoverished neighborhoods, attended low-performing schools, have faced challenging family circumstances and may have few positive experiences with education and social service systems,” the report said.

“There’s a cycle and they’re in it and they don’t have anyone to guide them out of it,” said Craig Dorn, president and CEO of Youth Opportunities Unlimited in Cleveland, a partner in the report.

Dorn wants the report to be a wake-up call for Northeast Ohio. “There’s definitely a problem,” he said. “And they’re costing society too much money.”

With each year that goes by, an unemployed/unengaged young person costs the community $44,200 in missed wages, lost tax revenue and an increased likelihood the person will need public assistance or social services. This population of young people is also more likely to commit crimes and have health issues.

“The most significant thing to me is how much our economy is missing out,” said Emily Campbell, associate director at Community Solutions.

Dorn, of Youth Opportunities Unlimited, wants people to look in their circles of relatives or friends or neighbors and see whether there are young people who fit in this category of being unemployed and not in school. He said the best thing these youths could do is to visit the Young Adult Resource Center at 1910 Carnegie Ave. in Cleveland. The center is staffed with representatives from Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Towards Employment and other employment offices to help get people on a path to employment. The center is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Appointments aren’t necessary but can made by calling 216-777-8222.

The report found that 60 percent of disengaged youths live in poverty. And black and Hispanic youths make up a disproportionate percentage of disengaged youths. They comprised 43 percent of the youth population in Cuyahoga County from 2012 to 2016, but made up 66 percent of disengaged youths. “This disparity could perpetuate generational poverty, lower educational attainment and presents challenges for wealth creation,” the report said.

Researchers interviewed 52 young people in this group. Overall, they wanted to get jobs and better themselves, but have obstacles: they may lack money for training or college; they may not have a car; or they may have children and not have access to affordable child care.

“Understand that it’s not just laziness,” Campbell said. “Every single person has aspirations.”

While the report itself is alarming, the gravity is compounded because it finds that the problem of disengaged youth is a bigger problem in Greater Cleveland than in many comparable communities. Researchers looked at the city and suburbs of Cincinnati, Dayton, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Baltimore. Among these, only Detroit’s Wayne County had a higher percentage of disengaged youth than Cuyahoga County.

Besides the Center for Community Solutions, the report was sponsored by Towards Employment in Cleveland, which focuses on workforce development; and Youth Opportunities Unlimited, a nonprofit workforce development organization in Cleveland that serves young people ages 14 to 24 in Cuyahoga, Lorain, and Lake counties.

People in the community who are interested in supporting the nonprofits can do so by contributing time or money. Dorn said the effort welcomes volunteers who can help young people with resumes or practice interviews. To contact Youth Opportunities Unlimited, call (216) 566-5445 or go to http://www.youthopportunities.org.

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