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State targets youth unemployment with training, tax credits

Ryan Delaney
Paul Nojaim explained how his family-run grocery store in Syracuse will participate in the state's Youth Works program.

The Cuomo administration is promoting a new program aimed at reducing unemployment among teens and young adults in low-income parts of the state.

The Labor Department's New York Youth Works program was first announced in February. Officials were in Syracuse late last week to highlight the benefits of the program.

Between aisles in Nojaims Supermarket on Syracuse's Near West Side, the labor department's Rachel Gold discussed ways to get the city's young people working again.

Syracuse's 18.9 percent youth unemployment rate is better than the statewide average of 20.1 percent.

For the overall job market, unemployment in New York currently sits at 8.7 percent.

"When you look at the 12 regions that were targeted through this legislation, you'll see that it has to do with large urban centers where there tends to be higher populations of poverty," explained Gold. "And Syracuse has a large population density and, as a result, a large unemployment rate."

The other targeted regions include Buffalo, Rochester, Utica, Albany and Schenectady.

The Youth Works program provides $62 million for job training programs and up to $25 million in the form of tax credits for companies.

A business will be given a $500 credit for each eligible teen it adds to its payroll. The benefits are capped at $4,000.

To date, 122 business across the state have signed up for the program. Labor department officials say that includes Nojaims.

"I was in high school when I started working here," said Annette Rivera, now a senior at Le Moyne College. "It just gave me a chance to get out in the workforce and learn what it is to have a job."

Rivera is the type of success story state administrators hope to replicate.

'This is not so much about creating jobs, but also about giving opportunities to people who wouldn't necessarily otherwise have it," said the labor department's Gold.

WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail
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