Teen joblessness is expected to hit a record high this summer, and police say that could mean more crime. The national unemployment rate for teens is projected to be about 27%, the highest since World War Two.
It's even higher in Georgia. Law enforcers say that puts the community at greater risk of crime.
Most South Georgia schools let out for the summer about May 20th, and law enforcement is already concerned that the majority of teens will not be able to find jobs. Psychologists say high teen unemployment can lead to years of crime problems.
Last summer The Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany used federal stimulus money to hire 55 teens. Those funds have been cut, and this summer they can only provide 26 jobs. And they say most teens are going to hear "NO" when asking for jobs.
"It's going to be a lot of teens on the street. They going to have nothing to do. And that's when your gang problems escalate," said Boys and Girls Club of Albany Director of Operations Bob Hutchinson.
The Dougherty County Sheriff's Office is already preparing, because they know when teens have nothing to do, more of them get in trouble.
"Our kids want things. They see things, they want them. And then the parents can't provide, then what's the other alternative," said Dougherty Co. Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Director Lt. Terron Hayes.
Labor experts say high summer joblessness has a long lasting negative impact on a community. While the work experience starts teens down a more productive road.
"Stepping in and making sure these teenagers have some kind of responsible role that they are playing and making some money, and getting on that road. Anything to help get kids on that road is going to be good for Albany business," said Scott Miller, CEO of Move the Mountain.
Youth experts say summer jobs will help solve many community problems. "Jim that cut down on crime. That cut down on teenage pregnancies," Hutchinson said
The Sheriff's Office has already seen record enrollment for their Champs summer program, as parents look for some sort of structured environment, because summer jobs for teens will be in short supply.
So those labor experts say business owners that can provide summer jobs for teens, it could be a good investment in the future of the community. But the sluggish economy and tight budgets have most businesses looking at cutting back, instead of hiring.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany are now signing up kids for their summer programs. The Dougherty County Sheriff's Office will have registration for their CHAMPS program in front of the Courthouse on May 14 and 21st.
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