Better Data to Build Better Career Pathways

By Maggie Jo Buchanan, Southern Director

Last Friday, the Texas Legislature passed a bill (SB 1119) to bring more transparency to the state’s work-study program and help improve career pathways for participating students. As the bill makes its way to the Governor, it is important to recognize the valuable insight this bill will bring to the students who participate in the program.

In less than five years, more than 60 percent of all jobs in Texas will require some sort of post-secondary education. At the same time, employers nationwide have been forced to reduce training time for new employees and cut back on entry-level positions. Last year, to better understand the impact of this trend, Young Invincibles completed the “Young Texas Works Jobs Tour,” a series of conversations with over 250 young people across our state on their experiences completing their degrees and entering the workforce.

Throughout the tour, we heard young adults illustrate the reality of our changing economy: Many expressed their struggles balancing the hours of paid work they needed to cover their bills and tuition with the hours they needed to keep their grades on track for graduation and to remain eligible for financial aid. One student told us: “At some point [when trying to balance work in school], even in the beginning you can manage, but as you move forward in your career and your studies, it’s harder and harder to be able to keep your job.”

Many of the young people we work with, however, identify the Texas Work–Study Program as an important avenue for them to tackle this education–experience paradox. But before SB 1119, the only information the state was required to provide was a biannual report on the employers in the program—nothing on participating students.

The bill requires that the report be made annual and include:

  • Demographic information;
  • The program of study and majors;
  • Class-year designations; and
  • Enrollment as a full-time or part-time student of all participants.

This new data will help us better ensure the TWSP is helping young Texans gain career-relevant experience. By identifying how students’ programs of study and majors compare to the participating employers, for example, we will be able to identify gaps and misalignments in opportunities. And, if certain students are being underserved by the program—for example, students in certain class years or degree programs—we can help ensure targeted, appropriate outreach to those who may benefit most from work-study.

In 1979, a student working a minimum-wage job could earn enough in one day to pay for one academic credit hour. Today, it would take 60 hours of minimum wage work for a student to accomplish the same. The Texas Work–Study Program is a valuable tool in helping students keep their heads above water, and by ensuring we better understand the young adults participating in the program as well as the employers doing the same, we will have a clearer picture of what our next steps should be.

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Cost-Benefit Analysis of American Health Care Act’s Impact on Young Adults

By Tom Allison, Deputy Director of Policy and Research 

Despite media narratives that young adults would benefit from lower costs under the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the legislation would actually cost billions for this age group. While the bill makes changes across the health insurance system, three groups of young people would be particularly impacted, totaling 17 million 18-29 year-olds:

  • Those currently buying insurance on the individual market;
  • Low-income people currently enrolled in Medicaid;
  • Currently uninsured young people making future decisions about their coverage.   

In order to analyze the AHCA’s impact on young people, we reviewed how changes to the tax structure, cuts to Medicaid and phase out of Medicaid expansion, surcharges to young adults who do not maintain continuous coverage, and an elimination of cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) all negatively impact young adults trying to afford health insurance.  We found that of these 17 million young adults most directly impacted, nearly 10 million, or about 58 percent, would pay a total of at least $23 billion more for health insurance annually – or $2,400 per person (Table 1).

This number is likely an underestimate, as our analysis does not include increased costs that many young people may face due to shifts to plans with higher deductibles, changes in essential health benefits, or discriminatory premiums that may result from the MacArthur amendment.  Given that the most recent enrollment report for which we have age and metal type selections data shows that more than three in four young adults (76 percent) shopping on the federal marketplace selected health plans with actuarial values above 70 percent, the expected reductions in availability of higher quality plans likely means that even those who see lower premiums will see higher out of pocket costs, an effect not captured in our analysis.

Table 1 V3

IMPACT ON CURRENT OR POTENTIAL MARKETPLACE CONSUMERS

Part of the reason why young adults would lose under the AHCA is the way the bill structures tax credits to help people buy insurance. These tax credits replace the subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which used a sliding scale based on income and cover a portion of the cost of health insurance premiums. The tax credit in the AHCA for young adults is a flat $2,000 benefit for individuals earning below $75,000, regardless of where you live or how expensive health insurance costs in your market.

This change specifically hurts low-income young adults (who on average earn lower incomes than older workers) by, in many cases, cutting tax credits to help pay for premiums as well as eliminating the cost-sharing reductions that offset out of pocket costs and deductibles.  In order to calculate how AHCA-tax credits (combined with changes in age rating) compare to existing ACA tax credits, we used CBO’s estimate of premium changes by the year 2026 at different poverty levels, the impact of age rating across this age cohort, and the CBO’s valuation of cost-sharing reductions.  We then adjusted for the declining purchasing power of AHCA tax credits using CMS premium projections, and assumed that a share of the population would be hit with the continuous coverage provision, or Millennial Penalty, based on existing research on coverage gaps for young people.

We found that low- and moderate-income young individuals would pay more under the AHCA than under current law, ultimately impacting 4.4 million young people, and harming the lowest-income young people the most.  As an example, Table 2 shows how a 27-year old earning $27,000 per year would pay $1,900 more in insurance costs for lower quality coverage under the AHCA. If that 27-year old is one of the millions of young adults who experience a lapse in coverage throughout the year, they can expect to pay $3,100 more per year in insurance costs. But a 27-year-old earning $75,000 would pay between $1,900 and $3,100 less under the AHCA, depending on whether they are hit by the continuous coverage provision.  A 27-year-old earning $95,000 would pay $700 and $2,000 less in premiums, though also see increased out-of-pocket expenses and receive a lower quality plan.

Table 2 V3

IMPACT ON CURRENT OR POTENTIAL MEDICAID ENROLLEES

About half of those negatively impacted are the 5 million young adults who would lose Medicaid coverage (Table 3). We calculate these coverage losses by assuming that the proportion of young people who lose coverage under the CBO’s analysis of Medicaid coverage losses is the same as the proportion of current Medicaid enrollees.  We then take into account the removal of coverage options for young people who are not currently enrolled in Medicaid but could have been if their state had expanded Medicaid in the future, an option that AHCA removes.

These deep coverage losses are not surprising: about 3.8 million young people have gained Medicaid coverage in the past half decade, representing one of the most important ways the ACA has impacted Millennials.

Table 3 V3

CONCLUSION

The AHCA would be a financial disaster for millions of young adults under the age of 30: nearly 10 million lower-income young adults could lose up to $23 billion. The 7 million higher-income young adults who might see lower premiums under the AHCA could save in premiums costs, but will also receive lower quality coverage and higher out-of-pocket costs. This results in an annual net loss of $11 billion for the Millennial generation.

This conservative evaluation of the law’s financial impact does not include diminished value of coverage from removing required essential benefits, increased deductibles, or unintended consequences from removing millions of people from Medicaid. Even without measuring that impact, we see that the AHCA results in skyrocketing costs for the lowest income young adults, while shifting small benefits to higher earners. There are smarter, more cost-effective methods Congress should pursue to improve young adults’ access to quality and affordable health insurance. We urge the nation’s lawmakers to go back to the drawing board and discard the fundamentally flawed AHCA.

METHODS

In their scoring of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected insurance premiums and credits for specific ages and at two different income brackets. Using the CBO’s assumptions and incorporating the effects from other changes the AHCA makes to the health insurance market, Young Invincibles conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the effects of the legislation on the cost of health insurance for young adults. In brief, we estimate the change in health insurance costs for every year of age between 18 and 29 years-old, along relevant income-to-poverty thresholds. We then used Census data to estimate the number of young adults, at each age, either eligible for Medicaid or currently on the individual market for health insurance.  Other assumptions include:

CBO estimates of premiums – Our analysis relied on CBO’s projections of an earlier version of the bill than what passed the House for insurance premiums in 2026. However, CBO does not fully adjust for increased costs stemming from healthier young people leaving the market and impacts on costs due to Medicaid disruption. We suspect this underestimates the projected premiums under the AHCA. The CBO also assumes a steeper per year increase in the price of premiums than in recent years as their current baseline. This produces a potentially inflated estimate for 2026 premium prices under current law.

Federal Poverty Levels – CBO estimated the 2026 costs for 21-year olds earning 175 percent and 450 percent of the federal poverty level under current law and the American Health Care Act. CBO estimates that in 2026 these poverty levels would reflect $26,500 and $68,200 adjusted gross income. In other words, the FPL would be $15,143. This projection reflects the 2 percent annual rate of inflation. The AHCA phases out the tax credit once individuals begin earning above $75,000. Using CBO’s projections for the FPL in 2026, we estimate $75,000 will equate to 495 percent of FPL and the tax credit will completely phase out at $95,000, or 627 percent of FPL.

Age Rating Adjustments – CBO assumes most states will employ the 5:1 age rating allowed in the AHCA to project premium costs for 2026. We applied a year-by-year age rating schedule to expected premiums along a schedule modeled by the Millman Consulting firm. This reflects CBO’s estimates that a 21-year old earning 175 percent of FPL will pay $5,100 under current law and $3,900 under the AHCA’s age rating adjustment. The AHCA allows states to adopt their own age rating, but was not considered in this analysis.

Cost Sharing Reductions – CBO acknowledges that cost-sharing reductions would amount to $1,100 for a 21-year old and $3,350 for a 64-year old (in note c in Table 4). Using these assumptions we created a year-by-year schedule of CSR values, equaling roughly $50 per year of age. In reality, individuals earning below 175 percent  FPL receive a larger CSR and individuals earning between 175 percent and 250 percent would receive a lower amount. We applied the average benefit, based on CBO’s 175 percent FPL projection, to individuals earning below 250 percent FPL, a benefit removed by the AHCA.

Medicaid Eligibility - The AHCA rolls back Medicaid expansion and also freezes Medicaid enrollment in a few years and transforms the program by capping federal funds. To estimate the number of young adults affected by this change we apply a 16 percent rate (the proportion of 18-29 year olds that make up all Medicaid enrollees according to the U.S. Census) to the 14 million total losses in Medicaid as estimated by the CBO, resulting in 2.3 million. This undercounts the impact as young adults would probably disproportionately be affected by the Medicaid cuts, particularly ones without a disability, and young adults without children. However, CBO also assumes that some new additional states would have expanded Medicaid by 2026, and their estimates of Medicaid coverage losses could come from states that haven’t actually expanded yet in our current baseline drawn from Census estimates. CBO does not specify which states they assume expand.  This opens up the possibility that there is some double-counting individuals in our estimates of those who would be Medicaid-eligible if they lived in states that expanded and those who would lose Medicaid under the AHCA.

Furthermore, eight states have adopted trigger statutes to undo Medicaid expansion coverage and/or benefits in the event the federal government reduces its state reimbursement. This could lead to hundreds of thousands of more young adults losing access to coverage or essential benefits. We then summed the 3 million remaining uninsured young adults whose incomes currently fall below 138 percent of FPL, who would benefit if all states expanded Medicaid, resulting in a total of 5.2 million.

We apply a benefit of $3,247 per Medicaid enrollee. Certainly individuals with chronic health problems or disabilities receive a much larger benefit, and individuals who lose Medicaid eligibility who then experience health problems would be exposed well beyond this $3,247 annual benefit.

Declining Value of AHCA Tax Credit – The AHCA provides tax credits for individuals earning below $75,000, varying in amount depending on age. The amount also increases starting in 2019, by the rate of inflation plus one percentage point. CBO estimates an annual rate of inflation of 2 percent until 2026, so the scheduled rate of increase for tax credits for individuals under age 29 would reach $2,460 by 2026. CBO rounded all estimates to the nearest $50 and so project the tax credit at $2,450. However, government data project premiums to grow by 4.7 percent per capita annually until 2026. Applying this rate to the $2,000 tax credit would result in $2,908, a $449 deficit from the the current projection.

Continuous Coverage Provision – The AHCA requires insurers to impose a 30 percent surcharge on individuals whose coverage lapsed for 63 days during the year. Young adults are much more likely to move, change jobs, and experience lapses in coverage. In fact, 33 percent of young adults could experience a lapse of coverage and receive the surcharge. We applied a 30 percent surcharge on 33 percent of the value of the penalty for young adults currently in the individual market. For young adults without health insurance, the full value of the penalty was applied.

Population Growth – We estimated for the number of young adults falling into different poverty levels using the U.S. Census’ Current Population Survey estimates for 2016. To estimate population growth over the next decade, we used the U.S. Census National Population Projections’ estimate of 8.0 percent growth in the U.S. population between 2016 and 2026. We applied this growth rate to our CPS estimates of young adults by FPL, and assumed proportional growth.

 

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Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act Would Modernize & Improve the Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 16, 2017
Contact: Sarah Schultz, sarah.schultz@younginvincibles.org, 202.734.6510

[WASHINGTON]- Today, a bicameral group of US Senators and Representatives introduced the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act, a bill that would strengthen and expand the nation’s flagship college affordability grant program. The Pell Grant helps almost 8 million low- and moderate-income students afford higher education annually, and has done so for over fifty years. This comprehensive bill from Senators Murray (D-WA) and Hirono (D-HI) and Representatives Scott (D-VA), S. Davis (D-CA), with 10 additional co-sponsors, would put the program on firm financial footing by shifting it to mandatory funding, expanding eligibility for the program, and improving the purchasing power of Pell by boosting the award. It builds upon several existing proposals from other Congressional offices, and Young Invincibles is happy to support the bill.

Young Invincibles’ Government Affairs Director, Reid Setzer added: “This proposal modernizes and expands the Pell Grant to make it more responsive to the 21st century student. Pell currently does not reflect the true cost of college, making it difficult for today’s students to complete a degree without taking on significant debt. This proposal helps combat this trend by increasing the maximum Pell Grant award and pegging future awards to inflation. Equally important, this bill would take Pell off the chopping block by shifting funding from discretionary to mandatory spending, giving students and families the assurance that Pell will be there when deciding how to pay for college. This proposal also opens doors to higher education for millions of new students to prepare them for jobs in today’s workforce, including DREAMers, people who are incarcerated, and previously defrauded students, among others. Investing in America’s future is critical to help grow the economy, and modernizing Pell to reflect the needs of today’s students and workforce is one of the best ways Congress can do just that.”

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House Republicans Vote to Endanger the Health of Young America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

May 4, 2017

Contact: Sarah Schultz, sarah.schultz@younginvincibles.org, 202.734.6510

House Republicans Vote to Endanger the Health of Young America

In response to today’s House vote to push forward the American Health Care Act, Young Invincibles released the following statement, from Executive Director, Jen Mishory:

“In voting for the American Health Care Act, Republicans in Congress voted to as much as double the young adult uninsured rate, sentence the 31 million young people who have a pre-existing condition to a lifetime of discrimination, defund Planned Parenthood, and gut Medicaid. Since passage of the ACA, more than 8 million young adults have gained coverage that has saved lives by enabling them to access free preventive care and other critical benefits. The American Health Care Act would reverse this progress. Young people, and all Americans, expect more from their representatives and deserve better than an unconscionable bill that would destroy lives.”

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Latest Republican Health Care Plan Could Hurt the 46 Percent of Young Adults with a Pre-Existing Condition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 26, 2017
Contact: Colin Seeberger, colin.seeberger@younginvincibles.org, 214-223-2913

[Washington, D.C.] — Today, Young Invincibles released a new report analyzing health care coverage for Millennials, underscoring how detrimental the latest version of the American Health Care Act would be for young people. The report reviews the gains young adults (18-34) have experienced under the Affordable Care Act, and the specific provisions most relevant to this generation. The new Republican replacement plan would remove or severely limit the impact of many of these provisions.

Millennials have seen dramatic gains in health insurance coverage since passage of the ACA, outpacing every other age demographic. The young adult uninsurance rate dropped from 29 percent in 2010, the highest rate among all age groups, to 16 percent in 2015. This represent a 45 percent decrease in the rate of uninsurance. Despite constituting only about one-third of the total United States population, young adults accounted for nearly half (46 percent) of the newly insured from 2014 to 2015.

The report finds that young people saw the impact of reform through several provisions, including three of the key provisions at risk in the latest House GOP proposal: protections from discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions; the expansion of Medicaid; and the inclusion of a number of key services in the essential health benefits package.  The latest version of the Republican health care proposal would either entirely remove or severely limit coverage and health services gains in all three provisions.

  • Discrimination against pre-existing conditions would hurt millions of Millennials: Millions of young adults are living with a preexisting condition. An analysis conducted by HHS in 2011 found 35 percent of 18- 24 year olds and 46 percent of 25-34 year olds were considered at risk for denial of health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.
  • Allowing states to easily remove essential health benefits would cut services that young adults use the most:
    • Maternity Coverage: The vast majority (83 percent) of first-time mothers are between the ages of 18-34 and rely on prenatal and maternity care.
    • Mental Health Services: Mental health was the number one reason young adults sought health care in 2013, with 7.6 million young adults taking advantage of this service.
    • Preventive Care: Young adults use preventive care for STD and HIV testing, cancer screenings, well-woman visits, depression and alcohol screening, and perhaps most importantly to young women, access to prescription contraception.
  • Gutting Medicaid could harm nearly half of all young adults who got covered under the ACA: Of the 8 million young adults who gained coverage since the ACA passed, nearly 4 million gained coverage through the expansion of state Medicaid programs. Closing the Medicaid coverage gap—by expanding Medicaid programs in all states to cover individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level—would further reduce the uninsured rate for young adults to 9.2 percent

“This newest version of the House GOP plan takes a bad bill and makes it worse for young people,” said Jen Mishory, Executive Director of Young Invincibles. “It was already going to take away health coverage for 24 million people and severely increase the uninsured rate for this generation. The newest outline builds on that devastation, allowing states to discriminate against millions of young people living with a pre-existing condition – condemning too many in this generation to a lifetime of battles trying to get coverage and care they can actually afford. At the same time, it also allows states to pull coverage benefits for mothers seeking maternity care to ensure they can have healthy babies and the million of young people who need mental health services. Young people, and all Americans, expect more.”

Click here to read the full report.

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What’s Happened to Millennials since the ACA? Unprecedented Coverage & Improved Access to Benefits

Millennials have seen large gains in health insurance coverage since passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, outpacing every other age demographic. Young people had the highest pre-ACA uninsurance rates, but saw the sharpest declines, dropping from 29 percent in 2010 to 16 percent in 2015 – a fall of 45 percent. Despite constituting only 30 percent of the total United States population, young adults accounted for 46 percent of the newly insured from 2014 to 2015.

The ACA significantly reduced the number of uninsured Millennials, in large part, because of a) the expansion of Medicaid beyond narrow categorical eligibility requirements, b) the creation of advanceable, refundable tax credits offered to low and middle-income people, and c) expanded dependent coverage to allow young adults to stay on their parent or guardian’s health plan until the age of 26.

To learn more about how the ACA has improved coverage for young adults, read our latest brief.

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13 Things the Trump Administration Has Done for Young People in Its First 100 Days

By: Colin Seeberger

President Trump ran for office promising to make health care better and more affordable, college debt less of a burden, and help more people find jobs. But the President’s first 100 days in office have done little to set Millennials on a path to prosperity and outright threatened their well-being. This is just a snapshot of how some of the Trump Administration’s actions during its first 100 days will impact our generation’s financial security.

On Health Care:
1) Supported the American Health Care Act that would cause the young adult uninsurance rate to nearly double. (Source)
2) Empowered states to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides care to millions of young people every year, by denying them access to Title X funding. (Source)
3) Threatened to withhold financial assistance to reduce out-of-pocket health care costs for low-income individuals. (Source)
4) Supported eliminating coverage benefits for common health needs like maternity care, substance abuse treatment, and more. (Source)
5) Backed a Millennial Penalty that would allow insurance companies to charge as many as 1 in 3 young adults 30 percent more for their health insurance if they experience a lapse in coverage for 63 days. (Source)
6) Released a rule that will make it harder to get and stay covered — by limiting the length of Open Enrollment, making it harder to verify Special Enrollment eligibility, lessening the actuarial value of health plans (which could lead to less financial assistance for Marketplace shoppers), and requiring enrollees to payback any premium debt before renewing enrollment eligibility. (Source)

On Higher Education:
7) Proposed $5.2 billion in cuts to the Pell Grant program, which helps low- and middle-income college students pay for college, for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018. (Source)
8) Overturned protections for student loan borrowers, exposing distressed borrowers to fees as high as 16 percent of their loan balance. (Source)
9) Instructed the Department of Education to loosen rules on vetting companies who collect federal student loan payments, despite the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau findings that many of these companies are taking advantage of borrowers. (Source)
10) Proposed eliminating $732 million cut to the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which would eliminate awards for 1.5 million students who demonstrate the greatest financial need. The Administration also proposed making “significant cuts” to the Federal Work Study program, which provides nearly 700,000 students financial help in exchange for working their way through college. (Source)
11) Proposed major cuts to TRIO and GEAR UP, which help nearly 800,000 low-income students navigate the college selection process, stay enrolled, and complete their degrees. (Source)

On Workforce & Finances:
12) Proposed eliminating Job Corps centers that provide career training for low-income 16- to 24-year-olds. (Source)
13) Proposed gutting funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s job training and employment support services. (Source)

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How Dream Jobs Are Made in Apprenticeships

On September 1, 2009 I began a journey that would transform my life forever.  As I rode the F train on that sunny morning in New York City, with my brand-new tool bag tucked between a brand new pair of Red Wing work boots, I reflected on what had led me to that moment in time.

As kids, we fantasize about what we want to be when we grow up. At one point or another we may want to be professional athletes, entertainers, or several other professions that require unbelievable amounts of talent or privilege that we may or may not possess. Later, in school, we are taught about the importance of college and the many career options that higher education will bring you.  We learn about schools like Harvard, Yale, Howard University and Morgan State, but we don’t necessarily learn about other successful paths to high-earning careers, like apprenticeship programs and the opportunity to learn a trade as part of a union.  We learn about great careers in medicine, law, finance, and education, but we don’t learn about being union electricians, steamfitters, or carpenters – they don’t tell us about all the other ways to be successful in our diverse workforce.  I remember feeling that the only way to unlock my potential was to attend a well-known college and seek out a job in one of these highly sought after careers.  Society had encouraged me to think that a traditional college experience was the only way to succeed.

That’s why it was a huge step to find the alternative to everything I was taught. As I sat on the train traveling to my first day of an apprenticeship, I was nervous but excited. It wasn’t the traditional path, so I wasn’t sure what success would look like, but given the staggeringly high youth unemployment in our state, I was determined. In New York, 15 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds (a group that I fall into) are unemployed, and it isn’t because of a lack of motivation or interest in success. It’s due to a lack of resources and opportunities that offer living wages while teaching a marketable skill.  I had no prior experience, but like many young people in my city, I was willing to learn.

I was immediately welcomed into the electrical world by a room full of skilled professionals, called journeymen in our trade, ready to teach me and excited to see a fresh apprentice entering the business. I learned quickly that this was a real solution to my own and my community’s problem with unemployment and underemployment. Throughout my apprenticeship, I was taught by the men and women of our labor union, called the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 3, with professionalism, patience, skill, and an occasional prank, which equals love in this line of work.  Over the next five and a half years I learned to become a Local 3 journeyman and now it has become my turn to help guide the careers of apprentices that may have had the same apprehension I had coming into a union trade.

No matter where in the country I decide to live, I have confidently learned a skill that is useful and in demand. I have the opportunity to work throughout the United States and other countries. I earn a great living doing what I love, beside workers who have become my second family. I have seen my peers, who I call brothers and sisters in the union take initiative and grow within the structure of our organization to become foremen, project managers, superintendents, and shop stewards. These careers have offered enough economic stability for some of my brothers and sisters to begin businesses of their own, both within the electrical industry and supporting other interests.  The question I always ask myself is, “why aren’t opportunities for apprenticeships in trade unions or other careers in the labor movement discussed more in schools and underserved communities?”

I wish I realized the power apprenticeships have to enhance the economic circumstances for an individual when I was working with New York City youth prior to entering Local 3. A lot of my brothers and sisters from the union come from underserved communities where resources were limited and the people who tried to make a difference were just as limited. A paid apprenticeship is a credential recognized by the industry that provides on-the-job-training while typically providing health insurance and a retirement plan. I experience consistent raises based off my completion of work and class hours. A person is offered this opportunity to succeed without any bias of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Along with all of this, Local 3 is unique in the sense that they enroll all their apprentices in the Harry Van Arsdale School of Labor Studies at SUNY Empire State College, so we receive an Associate’s Degree in Labor Relations.  Upon the completion of apprenticeship programs, an apprentice becomes a skilled journeyperson with the ability to perform the tasks of their trade and a college degree.

Young people from underserved communities are already at a disadvantage. We’re facing crisis-level unemployment and we need a range of solutions. My apprenticeship changed my life, and New York’s lawmakers need to invest in this option as a solution. When young people are not informed of the opportunities to join union trades and enter apprenticeship programs, they are being stripped of that career option that could be life-changing for themselves and their families.  I hope to see more young people from these communities with their brand-new tool bags, tucked between their brand-new Red Wings riding the subway excited, knowing they are getting ready to embark on a journey that will completely change their life.

Kenny Cohen is a Journeyman with IBEW Local 3.

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Insurance Provides Peace of Mind

Last night, House leadership decided to delay a vote on the American Health Care Act, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act. This proposal is projected to result in an additional 24 million people being uninsured. Below, Mina Schultz from West Virginia shares her personal story and perspective on what she stands to loose if we repeal the ACA and strip coverage.

I was 25 when I was diagnosed with cancer. I planned on being a language teacher, and was preparing to serve in the Peace Corps before attending graduate school. The diagnosis changed my plans overnight. I spent the next year in and out of the hospital for chemotherapy treatment, and underwent five surgeries. The cost of this life-saving care would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars and would have driven my family into bankruptcy. But, thankfully under the Affordable Care Act, I was covered by my parents’ insurance, and my treatment didn’t force them into unpayable debt. Now, as a contracted employee of a community health center, I purchase my insurance through the West Virginia Health Insurance Marketplace. At $404 per month, my insurance covers scans, labs, and medications. I’m thankful for this reduced cost because I know what my finances would look like without insurance.

I may not have become a language teacher, but I definitely applied my teaching skills when I worked  in health care enrollment. West Virginians, who have benefited greatly from the coverage gained through the ACA, have a wide range of views on how our health care system should work. At some point, everyone may need medical assistance, so everyone needs coverage. Even though the service is a necessity – and immediate one for some of my clients – it can be complicated explaining the details of the insurance market and health care system in an hour-long appointment. Many of my consumers didn’t understand what a co-pay is or had never been to a doctor, but they knew health care is a very personal issue, or even a political one. This can further complicate showing consumers how the ACA helps their health and financial security. Even when I offered practical information, I risked the educational session turning into a debate.

I wasn’t that far removed from my consumers, and understood their concerns, including around cost. No one can grasp the enormity of a catastrophic illness until it happens. But to be fair, no one can grasp the peace of mind that comes with having health coverage until you’ve needed it and used it.

I currently have that peace of mind but each day that passes, my fear grows that soon I will not only be uninsurable, but unemployed. That fear isn’t only for myself, but for all of my consumers who have benefited from their coverage: the plant nursery owner who got his first physical in 20 years, the young woman who caught cervical cancer early, the self-employed IT guy who could afford his thyroid medication again.

We all stand to lose if the ACA is repealed without a replacement that is comparable in the number of Americans it covers and the comprehensiveness of the benefits offered.  Frankly, we’ve come too far to move backwards, and I, for one, refuse to take that chance with my own health or the health of my community. Rather than rushing to repeal the ACA, Republicans should reach out to their Democratic colleagues and make improvements to health care that the American people want, like further lowering out-of-pocket costs and doing more to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

Mina Schultz is a former Affordable Care Act Enrollment Assister. She currently is a Benefits Enrollment Specialist at a nonprofit that seeks to lift West Virginians out of homelessness. Since surviving cancer, she has taken up swimming and yoga, and loves to travel whenever possible.

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#InvestInYouthSkills

A Campaign To Address Crisis Level Youth Unemployment in New York State

In December of 2016, YI released a study–Sounding the Alarm: New York’s Young Adult Unemployment Crisis & the Need for State-Based Reforms-which found that New York has a serious young adult unemployment crisis. We also looked closely at the state’s single largest investment to tackle this issue, the $50 million Urban Youth Jobs Program–a small dollar tax credit available to employers who hire disadvantaged young adults. We found that it does nothing to train disadvantaged young adults, and that employers would much rather have a skilled worker than a stand alone small dollar tax credit. To learn more, see our one-pager below:

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WE GOT THE ATTENTION OF THE STATE LEGISLATURE….
The alarm is working, keep sounding it! Youth unemployment and the Urban Youth Jobs Program were all the buzz at the Joint Legislative Human Services Budget Hearing in Albany on February 8th. Legislators had lots of questions for the Department of Labor about how effective the program is in tackling high young adult unemployment.

This is most likely because the program has undergone significant changes since 2012 and has become an annual $50 million program with zero evidence suggesting the program is actually working. What’s more, the required annual reports that are mandated to be submitted to the legislature for their oversight are missing. This year the Governor’s Executive Budget is proposing to authorize another $50 million a year for five years.

Watch Assemblyman Harry Bronson (D-Rochester) ask the New York State Department of Labor a few important questions and offer up a solution that makes sense to us:

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Assemblyman Bronson’s recommendation to repurpose unused dollars dedicated to the Urban Youth Jobs Program to fund the Empire State Apprenticeship Program (ESAP) is also a top solution Young Invincibles recommends in our latest report. ESAP would allow employers in growing sectors to claim tax credits that would help offset the costs associated with training an apprentice for three years. A key difference between the two programs is that–unlike the Urban Youth Jobs Program–the Empire State Apprenticeship Program not only trains disadvantaged young adults in growing sectors but connects them to long-term careers that pay well further helping fill the state’s skills gap. Check out our Legislative Memo of Support here.

BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Your legislators need to hear from you ASAP! Over the next few weeks state legislators will be debating priorities for this year’s state budget due on April 1st and it’s critical they hear from you! Join Young Invincibles in urging them to invest in strategies like the Empire State Apprenticeship Program that invest in developing the skills of disadvantaged young adults.

Click here to send a letter to your state legislative representatives urging them to support the Empire State Apprenticeship Program as a first step to tackling New York’s alarmingly high young adult unemployment rate. TAKE ACTION!

WANT MORE?
Read some of the unanswered questions by Assemblyman Bronson and other members of the Legislature.

Assemblyman Bronson had some good questions about the Urban Youth Jobs Program that we are also looking to find answers on. His questions include:

  • What is the age breakdown of the youth who have been employed under the program?
  • What is the average length of time someone is employed and how many of these jobs are seasonal?
  • Can we have access to the mandated annual reports, which don’t seem to be available and haven’t been accessible to the public?
  • Given how research from Young Invincibles tells us that employers are more interested in having a trained workforce might it not be a good opportunity for us to use some of those tax credit dollars to hire those young people as apprentices?

Assemblyman Bronson wasn’t the only member of the state legislature to have important questions about the Urban Youth Jobs Program that need answering.

Assemblywoman Jaffee asked how many youth participated in the program since its inception? What type of jobs does the program generate? Are there any numbers to understand how many youth maintained employment in the second year benefit?

Senator Montgomery asked what are the corporations that are actually participating in the program, how many youth are participating, what percent of the funding goes to the areas where there is the highest need, and where across the state is the program most used?

Senator Persuad asked do you have any evidence as to how many youth have been advanced through this program? How many youth have come from where they were at the poverty level to out of poverty? Do you have any data showing if young adults remain employed after the tax credit expires?

Senator Krueger asked the difference between the Minimum Wage Reimbursement Tax Credit (MWRC) subsidy program and the Urban Youth Jobs Program as both cost the state the same amount of money and are designed to serve a similar demographic? What industries are using that credit? For both programs that require missing annual reports for both programs, what’s working, are young adults continuing to keep jobs after the credit is used up, and are these tax credits just a way for some companies to figure out how to use the tax dollar to pay for wages they would have used anyway such as fast food companies?

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