HunterFloorAction2Unemployed and foster Illinois youth could soon find relief thanks to a new jobs plan sponsored by State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago). The Illinois Senate passed the measure 42-10 today.

“Financial hardships pressure young people to find a job. Youth are going to find ways to survive regardless, whether it’s working for a business or on the streets. Our job is to create constructive options to uplift our most at-risk residents,” Sen. Hunter said.

Hunter’s new measure would create the Illinois Young Adult Recreation Corps to put young people back to work.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois had one of the highest unemployment rates among teens aged 16 to 19 in 2012 at 27.1 percent. Roughly 15 percent of residents between the ages of 20 to 24 were also unemployed.

Joblessness among minority youth skyrocketed to 90 percent for African-Americans and 79 percent for Hispanics. The overall joblessness in Illinois recently dropped to 10.9 percent which is a percent higher than the national average.

The Great Recession pushed many young people out of the job market as older job-seekers, with higher levels of education, began taking lower-wage jobs.

In response, Hunter held statewide youth employment hearings from East St. Louis to Rockford in an effort to understand the severity of the issue.

Youth testimonies revealed that, young people often must choose between trying to find a summer job or turning to the streets to support their families and attend school.

Hunter also passed Senate Bill 1255, which creates a Foster Youth Summer Internship Program to provide professional training and experience for youth in foster care.

Senate Bills 1808 and 1255 passed the Senate and now go to the House for further consideration.