PHOTO: Governor Jay Nixon. Photo by Rob Sifford for The Current 2014 ©

By Daniel C. Hodges, staff writer for The Current

On October 30, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced a new 2015 summer jobs program to employ 2,000 low-income youths from St. Louis County and City.

The announcement was made by the governor at the St. Louis County Metropolitan Education and Training Center (MET Center) on October 30. The MET Center is a job training facility that serves the St. Louis area. The governor spoke about how an individual’s first job is important to learning basic skills that will last throughout their career. Nixon followed-up saying that, “for many young people, especially those in low-income communities, access to these kinds of meaningful job opportunities is limited.” Providing these opportunities is the end-goal for this new summer jobs program. The program is open to young people between the ages of 16 and 21 years old, who live up to one hundred eighty-five percent of the federal poverty level. In St. Louis, the federal poverty level varies by the number of individuals in the household but runs from $11,670 annually for a single person to $40,090 annually for a household of eight. One hundred eighty-five percent of these levels is $21,589.50 and $74,166.50, respectively.

The program will principally be funded with federal capital through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. The TANF program began in 1996 and provides funds for low-income families with dependent children. This availability of TANF money is the result of improved economic conditions. TANF resources are available for low-income families under 185 percent of the federal poverty level. Further funds will be available through the federal Workforce Investment Act and Community Development Block Grant. The new summer jobs program will utilize $5.9 million of federal funds to employ up to 2,000 youths in $8 an hour, 30 hours a week jobs. The $5.9 million sounds like a great deal of money but compared to the overall problem of youth unemployment, it is just a beginning. Assuming little-to-no overhead costs, $5.9 million distributed in such a fashion will last 12.3 weeks with each participant earning $240 per week before taxes.

The new jobs program will be run by St. Louisian and former state senator, Democrat Maida Coleman. She is the head of the state government’s new Office of Community Engagement (OCE), whose purpose is, according to the Columbia Missourian, “to better connect [the] state government with low-income and minority Missouri residents.” The OCE will partner up with the Division of Workforce Development, local Workforce Investment Boards (WIB), community organizations, school districts, and varying local employers to offer 2,000 jobs that will “run the gamut”, according to Press Secretary for Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Scott Holste. This wide range of jobs will offer youths the opportunity to acquire a variety of job skills. Scott Holste said, “One important thing to bear in mind is that this [program] will help these young people in taking on the responsibility of having a job and the pride that comes with that – especially when the unemployment rate among that age group in St. Louis is considerably higher than with other age groups.”

At this time, the program is still under development for the next several months. Local WIBs and school districts will be the online points of contact for youths when the time comes to apply.


© The Current 2014