D.C. Mayor Marion Barry criticized Washington businesses yesterday for failing to provide enough summer jobs for the city's youths, and urged them to come up with additional jobs for the city's summer youth employment program, which begins Monday.
Barry--who has received unprecedented financial support from the business community in his reelection campaign--said during a news conference that 19,295 youths have been referred to jobs, but that only about 200 of the jobs are with private, profit-making companies. Last year, there were about 300 such jobs.
"I'm very critical of anybody, whether he or she is a contributor to my campaign or not, who does not hire one young person," said Barry, whose campaign has raised more than $691,000, much of that total from local businesses. "One young person ought to be hired by every business in this town. Simple as that."
Asked if he were willing to encourage potential campaign contributors to instead contribute less and hire a summer worker, Barry replied testily, "You're mixing apples and oranges."
John Tydings, executive vice president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the area's dominant business lobby, said Barry "made a good appeal, and I think it will show good results." Tydings said four city employment services workers have been trying to help the board find more jobs.
Tydings contended, however, that the jobs found through the board are only a small part of the business community's response.
"Businesses are going out and hiring directly," Tydings said, including hiring youths in their own neighborhoods, through the schools, or extending the hours of youths who work part time the rest of the year.
Tydings said the Board of Trade is trying to determine how many temporary jobs are created by business. "I believe it will be in the thousands, not hundreds," Tyding said.
About 25,000 youths signed up for the program, which experienced numerous problems during Barry's first two years in office but ran more smoothly last year. Registration for the program is closed. The extra names have been placed on a waiting list.