Lt. Governor says federal stimulus funds will create temporary jobs for youth from low-income families in Hawaii

Video by David Corrigan

About 400 young people who live on the Big Island of Hawaii and meet certain criteria will be able to earn wages this summer, through the 2010 Summer Youth Employment Program.

Lt. Governor Duke Aiona was in Hilo on Thursday, where he announced the initiative while visiting the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Workforce Development Division Office on Kinoole Street.

Although the effort is designed to put money in the pockets of youth from low-income families, Aiona said it is also an opportunity for them to gain valuable work experience in public service jobs.

“Because competition is fierce for any job opening, young people – with their limited work experience – often have the greatest difficulty getting jobs,” said Lt. Governor Aiona in a written release. “This program provides great opportunities for individuals to get their foot in the door with many public sector jobs.”

These six-week jobs are open to young people, ages 14 through 23, who meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Attending a Title I school designated as having a high percentage of students from low-income families; or
  • Receiving free or reduced price lunches; or
  • In a household receiving public cash assistance; or
  • In a household receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food stamp benefits; or
  • In a household with a gross annual income at or below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level for Hawaii.

The state listed the Title 1 Schools on the Big Island as Hilo High School; Honoka‘a Intermediate and High School; Kau High School; Keaau High School; Kealakehe High School; Kohala High School; Konawaena High School; Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School; Pahala Elementary; Pahoa Intermediate and High School; and Waiakea High School.

About 1000 summer jobs are expected to be created across the state. The Big Island is allocated 40% of the job slots because Hawaii County’s 10.1 percent unemployment rate is the highest of all counties in the state. The Hawaii state average is 6.9 percent.

The program is a Department of Labor and Industrial Relations collaboration with the State Department of Human Services. DHS is financing the program using “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” federal stimulus funds. The summer jobs pay $8 or more per hour and are offered at federal, state and county government offices and at non-profit organizations statewide.

The state says a minimum of $3 million in TANF funds will go to the program, with funding for Neighbor Islands totaling $1.8 million. Additional federal funds are available if enrollment in the program is larger than expected.

Starts May 24th, and the money must be spent by the end of September.