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Less Summer Jobs Available to Area Teens after Federal Funding Cuts - WKBN

The summer job market might be a little tighter this year.

The Ohio Summer Youth Employment program helped hundreds of teens in the Mahoning Valley get summer jobs.

It helped local governments, too. Teen workers filled in the gaps when full-time city employees went on vacation.

They were paid through federal money, but Columbiana and Mahoning counties are losing more than $1.5 million for workers through the program.

The State of Ohio is using the $40 million from the summer program to start a new “case management” system. That program is supposed to help low-income teens find jobs in the private sector.

“It’s hard to argue with that part of it, in terms of what the state is trying to do. I understand that, but selfishly, we’d like to have our kids be working this summer and that’s not going to happen,” said Columbiana County Commissioner Mike Halleck.

Halleck said Columbiana County will receive about $111,000 as opposed to the $800,000 the county received before. And, they can only hire 14- and 15-year-olds.

Those workers can’t run landscaping equipment, can’t drive to job sites and have to work shorter hours.

Columbiana County used to hire hundreds of teens and now only 30 can be hired.

Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation Director Ian Beniston said the change will affect hundreds of kids in the city, from 16- to 24-years-old, that were gaining real skills from the work.

“We do have them doing real hard work here,” he said. “They are out eight hours a day cutting grass or boarding up houses in the heat. It’s not easy work they were doing.”

Supporters say the youth employment program did a lot of good, and now teens and young adults from disadvantaged families won’t have those work opportunities.

“The important thing, not only did it give them some spending money, but it taught them a work ethic, so it was beneficial on both sides of the equation,” Halleck said.

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