By andrew Damstedt
WASHINGTON – Braden Dauer has been looking for a government or political job since he graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2009.
He’s put in hundreds of applications and been interviewed exactly once, he told a crowd of young supporters of the American Jobs Act at an event on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
“There are so many young people out there competing for the same jobs, we simply need more of them and soon,” Dauer, 25, said. “The American Jobs Act would help create hundreds of thousands of jobs that young Americans and all Americans urgently need.”
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore, sponsored the event with a youth advocacy group called the Young Invincibles to show the need for President Obama’s American Jobs Act, which would create jobs through infrastructure projects; prevent teacher, police and firefighter layoffs; and provide tax breaks for small businesses, among other things.
This month, the Young Invincibles released “State of Young America,” a report describing the economic problems young adults are experiencing. Nationally, the unemployment rate for 16-to-24-year-olds is 18 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in August.
Congress has yet to approve any legislation set forth in the $447 billion American Jobs Act Obama introduced in September at a joint session of Congress.
Dauer, who is looking for a political job in the Maryland-D.C. area, is waiting tables at Fisherman’s Inn in Kent and has a research job for a University of Chicago professor. Those jobs, he said, were the kind he wanted to work while he was in college — not after he graduated.
“Since I left college two years ago, I have submitted hundreds of job applications, visited multiple career fairs and attended job seeker support meetings, but I still have not landed a long-term stable position,” Dauer said.
He counts himself fortunate to live with his parents, who also help with his student loans, he said.
Rory O’Sullivan, Young Invincibles policy director, said one of the proposals in Obama’s plan, called the Pathways Back to Work Fund, would be most beneficial to young Americans.
That program would provide subsidized jobs for youth as well as support on-the-job training for young and low-income adults.
The United States needs to create more jobs now, Cardin said.
“We think giving certainty to the economy will unleash a lot more activity so that those who are graduating college in June are going to have a lot greater opportunity than we have right now,” Cardin said.
Both senators serve on the Senate Finance Committee, and Wyden said on Thursday, the committee was going to look at unemployment system, which he said was “outdated for young people.” His proposal, the Startup Act, would be to allow people to pool unemployment benefits to set up a business and become entrepreneurs.
“I’m struck by,” Wyden said, “in how so many of the big debates here in the United States Senate, your generation is pretty much an afterthought.”