Passing the Employ Young Americans Now Act (S.1506) would be an important step in the fight to preserve and expand Social Security.
Jobs for youth
Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders introduced S.1506, along with Rep. John Conyers (H.R.2714), in response to the crisis in youth unemployment. This summer, there is a shortage of at least 6.5 million jobs for young people aged 16-24. During the rest of the year, the shortage averages about five million. In many urban communities of color, but also in smaller towns and rural areas, real youth unemployment exceeds 50 percent.
Sanders’ Employ Young Americans Now Act (S.1506) would spend $5.5 billion to provide one million young Americans with jobs and provide job training to hundreds of thousands more. The funds would be directed to those communities with the highest youth employment, providing significant impact in African American, Latino, and Native American neighborhoods and many small towns and rural areas.
Opponents of Social Security often pit the interests of youth against security for seniors. They say that greedy seniors are living high off the hog at the expense of their grandchildren. They say that we must cut Social Security today, or there will be nothing left when for workers retiring in 30, 40, or 50 years. They have convinced many young people that “Social Security will not be there for me.”
These lies are financed and spread by billionaires who want working people, old and young, to fight each other over crumbs, while the one percent keep getting a larger chunk of the pie.
How can we be sure Social Security will be around for those retiring in 2040 and beyond? A national jobs for youth program is an important part. Here’s why.
Meeting future needs
The future of Social Security depends on the state of the U.S. economy. Will the working age population of this country be able to produce enough goods and services so that retirees can have a decent standard of living, without shortchanging the needs of everyone else for shelter, health care, education? And will that be possible with the aging population?
The productivity of the economy depends on many things. But among the most basic and essential are a skilled workforce and a robust infrastructure, so that workers can produce the necessary goods and services.
Teenagers and young adults today will be “prime age” workers 10, 20, and 30 years from now. Everyone in our country will be depending on them to make the country work. They will be the doctors and teachers, the truck drivers and service workers, the government administrators and utility workers. The Employ Young Americans Now Act can help young people gain work experience they meed for them to develop the job and social skills to be a highly productive part of society. Which, in turn, can lead to an economy strong enough to maintain and expand Social Security while meeting the needs of the rest of the population.
Support for the Employ Young Americans Now Act is not only an instance of solidarity between the generations of working class people; it important for guaranteeing the future of Social Security.
In addition to the Employ Young Americans Now Act, Sanders has submitted two other bills which impact jobs and Social Security.
The Social Security Expansion Act (S.731) would modestly increase benefits, especially for low-income retirees. Rep. Conyers is also a sponsor.
The Rebuild America Now Act (S.268) would invest $1 trillion over five years to rebuild America’s crumbling network of roads, bridges and transit systems and other infrastructure projects, and create or maintain at least 13 million decent-paying jobs. Along with a skilled workforce, a robust infrastructure is essential for an economy capable of meeting people’s needs.
Sanders’ presidential campaign has helped make expanding Social Security a national issue. And he has long been an advocate for our nation’s infrastructure and workers. These three bills, together, are an important base for a program to insure economic security for American working families.
Photo: New Haven youth activists speak at a 2013 rally to defend Social Security. | Art Perlo