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Small Businesses Can Help Curb the Tide of Youth Unemployment

The SBA and Small Business Majority are encouraging small business owners to pledge to create job opportunities for young people as part of the SmallBiz4Youth campaign.

Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the Small Business Administration's blog. See the original post here.

America’s current unemployment rate of 5.3% has not been this low since before the recession in 2008. However, recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics tell a different story for youth. According to BLS, the unemployment for youth ages 16- to 24 years old is 12.2% with rates for blacks at 20.7% and 10.3 and 12.7 respectively for whites and Hispanics. As the nation’s job creators, small businesses are uniquely positioned to help address the issue of youth unemployment in America, while at the same time addressing their need for a ready workforce.

The SBA and Small Business Majority have joined forces to encourage small business owners to pledge to create job opportunities for young people as part of the SmallBiz4Youth campaign, a national campaign to help bridge the gap between “opportunity youth” and small businesses needing to fill key entry-level positions. “Opportunity youth” refers to the 6.7 million young Americans ages 16-24, who are not in school and not working. Research is clear, finding ways to re-engage these youth to the labor market is critical for their long term quality of life and the long term economic impact on our nation.

The SmallBiz4Youth campaign attempts to address the unemployment rate of young people by asking small businesses to take one or more of the following actions with a commitment to:

  1. Increase hiring of opportunity youth;
  2. Expand internship or apprenticeship opportunities;
  3. Adopt work-based learning opportunities through mentoring and  training;
  4. Partner with Workforce Boards to identify prospective youth for job placement;
  5. Partner with local nonprofits, One-Stop Career Centers, Community Colleges to identify opportunity youth to fill internships and/or entry-level positions; and
  6. Work with suppliers to assess opportunities to hire, train or mentor opportunity youth

Any one of these efforts help to introduce  young people to the business world, while helping them build the skills necessary to be successful in the workplace and beyond. This campaign builds on ongoing efforts by Small Business Majority and the SBA to create more opportunities for youth and Millennials across the country. Last year, President Obama launched “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative to address the opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and to create opportunities for all young people. The SBA’s commitment to this initiative focuses on creating pipelines for all youth, especially young people of color, to enter the workforce, and even one day own their own business.

To sign the pledge or to learn more, visit We encourage businesses of all sizes to join us in giving access to potentially life changing opportunities for our youth. Sign the pledge today!

Tameka Montgomery is the SBA's Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development.