National

Sep 23, 2009 4:44 PM by Associated Press

$1.2 billion failure: teen unemployment soars

Experts and government watchdogs say $1.2 billion worth of stimulus money that was supposed to help teens find summer jobs has yielded few new opportunities for the young.

With more adults vying for the same low-wage positions as teens, the unemployment rate among 16- to 24-year-olds soared to 18.5 percent in July -- its highest level since just after World War II. Since the stimulus program began in May, almost a quarter of the nearly 280,000 youth enrolled in the work programs haven't gotten jobs.

One labor expert calls the program a "half-disaster." Andrew Sum of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University says it was "too little, too late and too poorly constructed to have any lasting effect."

The Labor Department acknowledges it's still working out the kinks, but says if there are mistakes it's happy to correct them. And, the department insists there's a "a lot of good news" coming out of the program.

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