Only 30% of young men receive a regular salary. Eric Adams wants to increase that number.


Last week, at a job fair at City College in Harlem, 26-year-old Showayne Brown reached out to as many financial industry employers as possible. The recent College of Staten Island graduate has been cooking for three years and now wants something that would launch a career.

It was slow. “Retail is hiring and fast, but not the best career-wise,” he said of his top picks available.

The story is the same for Nathaniel Porter, 21, who currently works at a Nike store in the city.

“I need a new experience and retail is fun, but if I’m able to sell clothes I’m able to sell other things. So why not try becoming a stockbroker or agent real estate?” he said. “Why not think of bigger things.

These two young men are looking to find a new job in an economy that is still struggling to recover from the pandemic downturn. But most young men do not even go that far: they have no job and have almost completely disconnected themselves from the labor market.

Only 30% of young men ages 18 to 24 in New York City have paid, non-self-employment jobs, according to a new analysis of government data by economist James Parrott of the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs. Parrott calculates the unemployment rate for this group at more than 20%.

In contrast, almost half of women aged 18 to 24 are employed.

Unemployed men in this age bracket numbered 250,000 in the five boroughs at the height of the pandemic, according to an internal analysis by the Adams administration. Even with the addition of over 500,000 jobs, the number of unemployed young men is probably 150,000 today.

“That’s a significant posting rate from the people you need to start entering the workforce,” said Rahul Jain, New York City’s assistant state comptroller. “There must be ways to get people back into formal work.”

Lean wages

The prospects of young people have been particularly affected by the pandemic since the sectors that lost the most jobs – hotels, restaurants and retail – were the face-to-face industries which disproportionately employ young people.

“Think of someone who graduated from high school and didn’t go to college for various reasons,” said David Fischer, executive director of the Mayor’s Office for Youth Employment, which coordinates the city’s efforts to help young people not only find jobs, but establish careers that will create a fairer economy. “The economy is in freefall and maybe they get a job at Amazon for $16-17 an hour, but it’s not full time. This kid will probably be the first to be laid off and it’s unlikely he’s gained the work experience necessary to move on.

Parrott believes wages in these industries, which have risen in recent years as New York City established a $15 minimum wage, are still too low to provide enough income for a financially stable adult life, especially more than most of these jobs are part-time.

Indeed recruiters chat with job seekers at a City College job fair on August 18, 2022.

An unknown number of young men have opted for on-demand work, such as with food delivery apps, and this work is not counted in government employment data. Fischer thinks many young men could make a living in the informal economy.

The Adams administration says it recognizes the seriousness of the problem of youth unemployment.

In the short term, the city’s expanded summer jobs program for young people has provided jobs and incomes for 100,000 New Yorkers this year, a record nearly one-third. As the new school year approaches, the administration is working with CUNY to increase the number of paid internships for its students, a proven path to better jobs.

But the administration is pinning most of its hopes on a revamp of its workforce development programs, which had been split among a myriad of agencies focused on their own goals.

For example, for years the Department of Small Business Services judged its success by the number of placements it made, not whether those jobs paid decent wages to create a career path. Critics have long argued that this has led the city to favor low-paying and unstable jobs.

The Adams Model is a program announced this month called Pathways to Industrial and Construction Careers (PINCC), designed to move about 3,000 people receiving government assistance or living in public housing into well-paying careers in construction and jobs. industrial.

It is funded by a $19.5 million federal grant and targets two industries that pay relatively high wages, where demand is expected to continue for years. For example, the city plans to train people to work on diesel engines, where there is a shortage of skilled labor, and then retrain them for electric power jobs.

The city will select people with job skills, provide the necessary training, including what training experts call “essential skills,” such as how to find a mentor or network professionally, and continue to support even after the person has proven themselves.

“The PINCC creates a model of partnership within a sector to attract employers, educational institutions and training partners that we can replicate,” said Fischer.

Critics of the city’s earlier efforts are optimistic about the Adams plan.

“I know we’ve heard this before,” Parrott said, “but the latest actions suggest more may be happening to connect New York’s youth with better opportunities.”


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