[Congressional Record Volume 160, Number 25 (Tuesday, February 11, 2014)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E205]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                            UNEMPLOYMENT ACT


                       HON. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON

                      of the district of columbia

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, February 11, 2014

  Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Promoting 
National Service and Reducing Unemployment Act, to address one of the 
greatest workforce tragedies resulting from today's economy--our 
unemployed young people--and to spur economic growth and alleviate 
strain on state and local governments. This tragedy is not only hurting 
our young people, it is costing our government $25 billion each year 
through lost tax revenue and other costs. While over 10.4 million 
Americans are unemployed, my bill targets the 3.8 million young people 
who have not had a fair chance to ever use their high school and 
college education, which this nation has strongly urged them to get.
  What is particularly disappointing is the high unemployment rate for 
young people who heeded our advice to graduate from high school and 
college, only to try to enter the workforce in the worst economy in 
generations. The total unemployment rate was 7.3 percent compared to 
16.3 percent for young adults aged 16 to 24 even during the recent 
summer. Hundreds of thousands now compete for unpaid internships 
wherever they can find them. By significantly expanding AmeriCorps, my 
bill, without needing a new administrative structure or bureaucracy, 
would allow unemployed young people to earn a stipend sufficient to 
support themselves and to obtain work experience and secure a good work 
history to help them obtain future employment. The net cost of the 
expansion would be low, because these young people would be providing 
urgently needed local services that are being dropped or curtailed 
because of federal, state, and local budget cuts, such as after-school 
programs, tutoring, and assistance for the elderly.
  The bill would significantly expand job opportunities for young 
people who have played by the rules but find themselves unemployed in 
this economy. It would increase the number of participants in the 
AmeriCorps State and National program from approximately 78,000 to 
500,000 full-time participants. Participants receive a living 
allowance, which most find sufficient to meet their basic needs, and 
are also eligible for an education award equal to the value of a Pell 
grant, for school-loan forbearance, health care benefits and child care 
assistance. By expanding the program, we would reduce the number of 
unemployed young people, provide them with the work skills and 
experience they would not get while unemployed, and help cash-strapped 
states and local governments provide services that they would otherwise 
have to cut.
  For some time, it has been clear that policies to address today's 
unusually stubborn unemployment need to be targeted in order to be 
effective. Without significant targeting, young graduates will continue 
to face their first years as adults without jobs and with no way to 
acquire work experience. They deserve better. I ask my colleagues to 
support this urgently needed targeted assistance for young, unemployed