The group Youth Jobs & Power Union marched from the Boston Common to City Hall in the afternoon of May 20th. The group of approximately fifty, carried signs and mock coffins, symbolizing the death of both minority youth and job opportunities. Many of the signs highlighted the giant funding disparity between jobs creation and law enforcement.
Many of the protester's signs highlight the FY16 proposed Boston Police budget amount of $324 million which was easy enough to confirm. While I heard numbers like $5 million budgeted for job creation being repeated by some of the protesters I wasn't able to confirm it in the actual proposed budget. I did find a few interesting items, however.
In the Housing and Neighborhood Development section there is a budget item for Business Services, one of whose goals is "to create jobs and open new businesses. The FY16 budget for the department is only $540,507 and they're target is to create 1,300 jobs and assist 240 business (roughly spending $416 per job). On the same table it has the actual numbers from FY14 when the department spent only $102,552 and created 1,030 and assisted 140 (roughly spending $100 per job).
The budget document does not list any external funds (state or federal grants) expenditures on job creation, although it does list it in other sections. I couldn't figure out if the city was burying youth jobs spending under other sections or programs. Also, it seemed like the city gets a pretty good return on it's investment in jobs, at least based on its own numbers. Even at the higher FY16 rate of $416 per job, it seems cheap.
In fact, it seems so cheap that it makes me suspicious of those reported job numbers. It's also clear that I'm now out of my depth, I'm pretty good at reading a budget but I don't know enough about the affected programs to offer any solid conclusions about the city expenditures.
There is clearly a problem with youth employment, especial for black youth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the youth (defined as 16 to 24 year-olds) unemployment rate for white youth was 12.1% and 24.8% for black youth (these numbers are from a report released in August 2014). For a comparison, the overall unemployment rate was 5.5% in March 2015.
After marching to City Hall a group of about ten protesters made their way inside to go and try and speak with Mayor Walsh. While campaigning for office, the Mayor had made promises regarding youth job funding that he failed to deliver on.
Mayor Walsh was out of the building but the protesters were promised a meeting by a representative. The contingent sat in the office for five minutes of silence before heading back out of the building. After rejoining the rest of the group, the protesters dispersed.