With only two weeks left in their campaign to line up summer jobs for D.C. youths, officials of the Greater Washington Board of Trade said yesterday that they are less than halfway to their goal and well behind the number of jobs they had at this time last year.
The board of Trade had pledged 2,900 jobs this year to the summer jobs program. But despite stronger lobbying of local employes and a more intensive advertising and telephone campaign to turn up the jobs -- the board now has only 1,400 job pledges. Last year, it had 2,100 pledges at this time.
"What nobody wants to face is that with the inflation trends the way they are and with the gross profits of businesses going down, nobody is willing to create or subsidize summer jobs for youths," said Cornell Johnson of the personnel department of Peoples Drug Stores.
Nancy Netherton of Riggs National Bank, who is directing the board's job campaign this year, said, "Every year, the number of jobs we've been able to line up has gone up. This is the 16th year of the program and this is the first year that hasn't happened."
The Board of Trade is coordinating the summer jobs program in the suburbs as well as has lined up 6,774 jobs around the metropolitan area. But last year, the board had commitments for 8,300 jobs by this time, Netherton said.
The number of jobs the Board of Trade develops is particularly important this year since the District government, which finds work for youths in the government and with nonprofit groups, expects to find only about 20,000 jobs. Last year, city officials found 30,000 jobs.
Some 15,000 District young people have already signed up for the summer jobs program, according to Adolph Slaughter, spokesman for the D.C. Department of Labor.
The city is having trouble finding jobs this year, Slaughter said, with commitments for only 16,874 jobs as of April 24, compared with 17,053 jobs on the same date last year.
Board of Trade officials said they are having the most trouble getting job pledges from businesses in the District, where most disadvantaged youths in the area live.
Many local employers who hired teen-agers in the past are citing profit losses or hiring freezes as reasons why they can't take on any additional employes this summer, Netherton said.
But some District businesses complained about the working habits of the youths sent to them last year through the summer jobs program.
This year, the Board of Trade has circulated fliers in the schools that warn the young people to "Make Your Working Impression a Lasting Impression -- Be on time . . . Be neat . . . Be courteous . . . Be enthusiastic."
Johnson of Peoples Drug Stores said his company has hired about 35 youths so far and expects to have hired about 60 by the end of the summer -- the same number as last year. "But we're getting twice as many applications," he said. Peoples has 32 stores in the District.
Netherton said the board, in particular, has had trouble lining up jobs in the construction and fast food businesses.