More than 100 teens demonstrated in near-100-degree heat in Boston’s Financial District Friday, calling on businesses to provide more summer jobs for the city’s youth.
The demonstration began at mutual fund company Putnam Investments in Post Office Square and wound through downtown to the State House, where the teens delivered a letter to Governor Deval Patrick calling on the state to do more to help teens get jobs. The Youth Jobs Coalition, a nonprofit group that advocates for youth employment programs, estimates that more than 350 Boston companies with at least 100 workers do not hire teens.
“The goal of the action is to sort of put a spotlight on it and ultimately to get serious meetings with the companies,” said Dan Gelbtuch, an organizer with the Youth Jobs Coalition. “At the end of the day, there are way too many teens to place and not enough places to place them.”
Teen employment has declined over the years, and the percentage of Massachusetts teens who are working has plunged, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. Just over a decade ago, more than 50 percent of Massachusetts teens were working: Last year, only 27 percent had jobs. The demonstration targeted Putnam because the mutual fund company declined to create a summer jobs program in partnership with the Youth Jobs Coalition, organizers said. In a statement, Jon Goldstein, a spokesman for Putnam, said, “While Putnam has a deep-rooted commitment to youth in the Greater Boston area, including through its long-standing charitable efforts, at this time, the firm does not have meaningful opportunities for part-time summer work.”
Among those participating in the demonstration was Marquel Wade, 18, of Roxbury. Wade said teens should not have to depend on fast-food chains for jobs; financial and professional services companies, like Putnam, should also provide opportunities.
These companies “have a lot to give to the youth as far as responsibility and maturity,” he said, adding they could provide lessons that teens “can take into the future when they have an office job.”