Remarks on Providing Additional Federal Funds for the Washington, D.C., Summer Youth Employment Program

July 20, 1983

Thank you, Ray. And Mayor Barry, Secretary Donovan, and ladies and gentlemen, and all of you young guests who are up here and out there, I'm pleased to announce today that $800,000 in additional summer youth employment funds is being allocated to the District of Columbia.

When Secretary Ray Donovan learned that my adopted hometown here was running out of money for its summer jobs program, he called Mayor Barry and offered to help. The result is today's check drawn from available funds at the Department of Labor. These funds will be added to the $8.2 million already transferred to the city and should provide 2,200 more summer jobs for unemployed young people in our Nation's Capital, a city that is very special to all of us as Americans.

This money is part of over $800 million that is being distributed nationally to enable State and local governments, and this will provide an estimated 800,000 summer jobs for young people throughout the United States. Our goal is to offer disadvantaged young people valuable work experience and at the same time provide the community with their services, which, I might add, will be more than welcome by cities and nonprofit agencies which will be receiving their help.

I have to add to what the Secretary said about that first summer job. Mine was when I was 14 years old. And I regret that a lot of rules and regulations have changed some things since then, because at that time I wound up with a construction company that was remodeling houses, and I ended the summer up, at my age even, at laying hardwood floors, shingling roof, painting houses. And I know that some regulations make that impossible today. Maybe we can keep on going till we change some of those back again to help all of you.

This summer youth program is funded by the Department of Labor and operated by State and local governments throughout the country. It'll continue to be an important part of the Job Training Partnership Act, which will replace the old CETA program this October. But this program is only part of an overall effort we've made to help deserving young people get a start.

We've put in place a tax-credit program that gives employers who hire eligible teenagers a tax credit for up to 85 percent of the wages of these new, summertime employees. In some cases, the credit will enable an employer to hire a disadvantaged youth for the entire summer at a cost of only $260. The young person gets not only a paying job but also the valuable experience participating in the private sector. The employer gets a young employee the company may not have been able to afford without the tax break. And everyone's better off because of it.

We've made a special effort this summer to focus business and industry attention on this problem. The White House Office of Private Sector Initiatives and the National Alliance of Business have been in the forefront of this drive to give those young people who want to work this summer the chance they deserve.

My White House Office on Private Sector Initiatives has been doing a tremendous job. I know that because they've enlisted me on a number of occasions on this particular issue. As part of a well-coordinated program, I've written 5,300 chief executive officers of companies across the country asking for their support. I've been making videotapes and phone calls to job-a-thons in order to kick off summer job efforts in cities across the country.

Along with Bill Kolberg and David Roderick and others with the National Alliance of Business, we've reached out, and I'm proud to say that the business community has responded. Companies like McDonald's, which hopes to provide 30,000 additional summer jobs; Mobil Oil, which donated generously to meet the challenge; the New York City Partnership Summer Jobs '83, headed by Philip Morris, has provided over 15,000 jobs for young people. And with us today is Hank Butta from C & P Telephone of Maryland. His Blue Chip-In program in Baltimore has been a tremendous success. All of these private initiatives and many, many more like them presented here today -- or represented here today, I should say -- deserve our thanks.

All of these efforts, coupled with the tax credit program and, yes, the economic recovery, have had an effect. We're just now emerging from one of the most frustrating times in our country's history. After years of economic uncertainty, of devastating inflation, business stagnation, ever-increasing taxation and a resulting drop in investment, of high interest rates, and declining stock prices, we've begun to turn things around. It wasn't easy, but together, all of us together, we've got the American economy on the move again.

While we've been trying to straighten out the situation, we know it's been a particularly hard time for the unemployed, especially the young. Economists tell us the unemployed are the last ones to feel an economic upsurge. But we all can be happy that last month total employment rose 1.2 million nationwide.

Clearly, the Federal funds that are being allocated to States and local governments are important to the young people they help. But we also want to take this opportunity to highlight the private initiatives that have been taken throughout the country as well.

And now, Mayor Barry, it's my pleasure today to give you the check that will make this summer a lot nicer for so many of our local young people: $800,000. I was tempted to leave for California, but it was made out so that I couldn't. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 1:52 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. Also participating in the ceremony were Secretary of Labor Raymond J. Donovan and Mayor Marion Barry of Washington, D.C.