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Teen program sees bleak job outlook

May 13, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — For the second year running, teenagers from area communities will be eligible for a summer job program funded by federal stimulus dollars.

But, although the economy is still bad, the number of jobs available is notably lower than last year.

"It was very successful [last year]," said Center of Hope's Rachel Reyes. "We had over 130 people qualify and over 100 placed in jobs that gave them 25 hours a week. For some of them, it was their first job ever."

This year, funding cuts mean only 38 jobs are available. Reyes said each of them will provide 35 hours for out-of-school teens or 20 hours for those still in school.

"If everybody worked 20-25 hours, we maybe could employ three or four more kids, but its not the same," she said. "…People earning $8 an hour are not making a living wage."

No, they aren't, according to Penn State University's online "Living Wage Calculator" at www.livingwage.geog.psu.edu. That site breaks down the "hourly rate that an individual must earn to support their family, if they are the sole provider and are working full-time," comparing it to the federal poverty rate and local minimum wage for a very large number of communities nationwide.

For Southbridge, it notes that, even without children, single adults need $10.68 an hour to support themselves; having just one child doubles that, and trying to support the traditional family (two adults, two children) triples it. Two adults without children need $16 an hour — twice minimum wage.

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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