youthunemploymentAh, summer. I remember it well…

Being a teenager, without many if any cares in the world, just wanting school to be done to then play in the hot Central Valley sun. Swimming, getting sunburnt, carousing with girls, cruising the main drag on Friday and Saturday nights, hanging out with my friends at the malls, going to the movies —

And working part-time to make a little extra cash to fend off the summertime blues. That’s how I bought my first new muscle car, as a matter of fact. I was also not part of any at-risk youth groups at the time, performing very well in school and being from an involved, middle-class family. I kept my nose clean as did most of my friends at the time. Plus it probably helped that my father was employed in local law enforcement.

Getting a part-time during the summer was never a problem for me and most of my friends either. This was also during the early 1980’s, when were in the throes of another recession of old. But again, it was not a problem finding part-time work and of course I never thought about how hard it may have been for others, or what the alternative was if I didn’t have work in a family struggling to keep food on the table and a roof overhead.

Fast-forward to today. According to a recent Economist article:

“OECD figures suggest that 26m 15- to 24-year-olds in developed countries are not in employment, education or training; the number of young people without a job has risen by 30% since 2007. The International Labour Organisation reports that 75m young people globally are looking for a job. World Bank surveys suggest that 262m young people in emerging markets are economically inactive. Depending on how you measure them, the number of young people without a job is nearly as large as the population of America (311m).”

The number of young people without a job is nearly as large as the population of America. Think about that. There are also places around the world where violent crime is increasing dramatically where youth unemployment is the highest.

Closer to home, here in Santa Cruz County of California, in America, overall unemployment dropped to 9.9 percent compared to 12.2 percent a year ago and 13.1 percent two years ago. Even though we’ve had our share of violence spikes, it’s still much lower comparably speaking to emerging markets and other parts of the industrialized world.

That’s great news locally, but it still doesn’t prevent idol minds and bodies from getting into trouble, particularly those from at-risk populations with volatile home life and little support elsewhere.

This morning I read about Work4Youth, a local nonprofit that works in partnership with the Santa Cruz County education office, and that placed 49 teens in summer jobs last year. This year they’re looking to find work for up to 75 at-risk young people, ages 14-24. Again, these are young people from low-income families, as well as from foster care. Young folks who want a chance to learn skills, future career opportunities, teamwork, acceptance and make a little money along the way. I’m sure there are similar organizations in your neighborhoods, too.

Because I never thought about the dangerous summertime blues. Until now. Living and raising a family in a vacation destination such as Santa Cruz and in a still uncertain and unsteady global economy makes me think a lot about them, a lot.

Let’s support these local nonprofits that help employ young people and teach them transferable skills for the long summer haul and beyond.