A summer-jobs program that hired hundreds of Philadelphia teenagers will be able to keep young people employed this summer because state Rep. Dwight Evans has pledged an additional $820,000, youth-agency officials said.
The Philadelphia Youth Network managed the summer-jobs program and had been worried that hundreds of teens would be left empty-handed this summer due to the 40-percent increase in the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.15 per hour.
While saying she was pleased the minimum wage was increased, network president Laura Shubilla said the reality is that the program wouldn't be able to hire as many young people as it hired last summer without additional funding.
"We have been working for the past six months to make sure that city and state officials were aware of the minimum-wage increase," Shubilla said.
She said she was pleased that Evans, D-Phila., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was able to find the tax dollars to keep the program running.
Younger teens, ages 14 and 15, will be paid a "training wage," while those 16 and older will get the new minimum wage, Shubilla said.
Evans, who is running for mayor, said in a statement: "A summer job isn't just about earning spending money, it's about gaining valuable experience in the workforce."
Evans called on other elected officials to find the additional $480,000 so that no youth jobs have to be cut this summer.
That $480,000 is the amount needed just to keep the number of summer jobs at the same level as last year, Shubilla said.
The program provided jobs for about 7,250 teens last summer. But some of those jobs were paid for by private employers in a program operated by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
Evans said he hoped that others would step forward to raise an additional $4 million needed to provide jobs for about 3,000 young people who are on the waiting list for summer jobs each year.
Sallie A. Glickman, chief executive officer of the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board, said summer jobs for students pay off both now and in the future.
"All the research shows that a young person who works while . . . in high school is more likely to complete high school, more likely to pursue a postsecondary degree, more likely to complete that degree and will earn more than his peers who didn't work," Glickman said.
While the main summer-jobs program is funded with government dollars, the chamber of commerce is recruiting businesses to provide employer-funded summer jobs as well.
After providing more than 400 employer-paid jobs last summer, this year the chamber set a goal of providing at least 1,000 employer-paid jobs for city teens.