The Summer Jobs for Needy Youth campaign conducted annually by Washington area business leaders has identified about 35,000 private-sector "job opportunities" - a record number - but all except about 10,000 are already spoken for, campaign officials said yesterday.
The bulk of the jobs are already filled by students rehired from the previous summer or those who continued to work part-time through the school year, according to the program's director, Kate Walsh. Part of a national drive sponsored by the National Alliance of Businessmen, the program is sponsored locally by the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade.
The Board of Trade campaign does not secure written pledges of jobs from employers but seeks only to identify possible job opportunities for youth in the private sector, Walsh said.
Identified jobs are filled by local government employment offices using the job information supplied by the employers, or they may be filled by the employers themselves.
Most of the jobs are in the suburbs and range from typical fast food and retail store work to calls for offbeat skills such as "calligraphy" (hand lettering).
As usual, the number of jobs is expected to fall far short of demand.
Though the campaign, for example, has identified almost 8,000 jobs for youth in Montgomery County, that includes only 300 to 400 "real job openings" so far to which jobless youths can be referred, according to Robert DeBernardis, director of youth employment for the county.
"Last year, we placed about 800 kids through that program, and we expect to do about the same this year," he said, "and I'd estimate we'll have about three or four applicants for every job."
While the number of job openings seems a bit lower this year than last, DeBernardis said "the situation has improved in that this year's director (Walsh) has taken care to see that the openings reported to us are real, not just something somebody sent in for a statistic."
In the past, he said, his office had spent considerable time calling employers to check on reported job openings that failed to materialize.
A staff of telephone volunteers provided by area businesses will work through the coming week to try to raise the total number of private sector youth jobs to 40,000 before the six-week campaign ends next Friday, spokesmen said.
In the District, where the shortage of jobs for young people is the most severe in the area, 35,000 and 40,000 students are expected to apply for summer jobs this year, according to the city's Department of Manpower. The jobs available through government and private programs combined may not amount to half that number.
"When we can service 50 per cent of our student applicants, we feel it has been a good summer," said Mattie Taylor, chief of the manpower department's outreach program.
The jobs pay the minimum wage ($2.30, or higher) and do not include baby-sitting or lawn care.
Fast food and retail chains continue to be the primary private employers of youth in the area, contributing almost half the total number of private-sector jobs, with maintenance and commercial services, recreation and tourism the next largest categories, according to campaign statistics.
The campaign has attempted to broaden its reach to smaller employers this year, Walsh said. "But they tend to feel the bookkeeping associated with Social Security and things like that is too much for them," she said.
Despite such obstacles, Walsh reported that jobs have picked up in at least one area. Law firms have been offering opportunities for clerical work where there had not been any before, she said.