Kelly, Durbin introduce legislation targeting unemployment in areas with high poverty rates

Stavros Agorakis, Reporter

U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will introduce two pieces of legislation to Congress next week that detail a plan to increase employment opportunities for at-risk Illinois youth, according to a news release.

The acts aim to increase federal resources for the creation of these employment programs, and they seek to provide tax deduction incentives for employers who hire youth from communities with low economic development.

Although the national unemployment rate dropped to 4.5 percent this March, the Illinois rate remains at 5.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2015, when the latest report on the unemployment age breakdown at the state level was released, the number of youth aged 20 to 24 that were out of work and out of school had reached 17 percent.

“The best anti-poverty, anti-crime, anti-violence program is a job,” Durbin said in the news release. “Chicago needs the federal government to be an engaged partner when it comes to expanding economic opportunity, and I will continue working to achieve this goal.”

One of the acts will encourage businesses to hire youth from areas with high poverty rates. More specifically, each employer will receive credit up to $2,400 to hire and train unemployed and out-of-school youth.

The other act will facilitate the creation of summer and year-round employment opportunities through the establishment of two, five-year competitive grant programs — one budgeted at $1.5 billion and the other at $2 billion — for youth aged 14 to 24.

“I always say: ‘Nothing stops a bullet like an opportunity,’” Kelly said in the news release. “So let’s create opportunities for our young people that grow the economy, strengthen our communities and stop the violence.”

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