Young Clevelanders struggle to find good jobs
Posted August 09, 2017 in Press Releases
Although high school graduation rates are going up, for young people living in Greater Cleveland, living wage jobs are hard to come by – especially for young Clevelanders of color.
Between 2013 and 2015, Clevelanders between the ages of 18 and 29 faced an unemployment rate of 13.8 percent, five points higher than the city as a whole, according to a new report from Policy Matters Ohio. Three-quarters of this group already works or is actively looking for work - but they struggle to find jobs that pay a living wage. In 2015, Cleveland-area workers between 18 and 29 made 59 percent of the wages of the typical worker: $11.13 an hour compared to $18.78 for all workers aged 15 to 64.
Young Clevelanders are better educated than ever before, and many have or are working towards post-secondary degrees. Moreover, most college students in the Cleveland area are working their way through school, according to the report.
“Young Clevelanders want to work, but they either can’t find jobs or the ones they have pay very little,” said report author and Policy Matters researcher Michael Shields. “They tend to be concentrated in low-paying industries so young workers are especially harmed by a low minimum wage.”
For young workers of color, the situation is even more difficult. Nearly one in three young black workers couldn’t find a job between 2013 and 2015. Years into the post-Recession recovery wages for young white workers remained relatively steady, but wages for non-white youth continued to fall, widening the racial gap. Compared to young white workers, young workers of color earned about 97 percent as much between 2005 and 2007, and about 81 percent as much from 2013 to 2015, according to the report.
The report recommends passing a $15 an hour state minimum wage, enforcing antidiscrimination laws, better funding community colleges, protecting social safety net programs and creating jobs through public investments.
“Cleveland’s youth workforce is working harder to find a job and learning more than ever, but young workers —especially those of color — are earning stagnant wages or being sidelined by unemployment,” Shields said. “That’s a market failure and we can fix it."