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The House Employment Opportunities Subcommittee last week approved legislation establishing a national youth-service program.

Sponsors of the measure conceded that there was no chance that the bill could become law in the few remaining days of the current Congressional session.

But the panel's chairman, Representative Matthew G. Martinez, Democrat of California, pressed for subcommittee approval in order to lay the groundwork for action on a new bill in the next Congress, according to an aide.

The bill would create two service initiatives, one for protecting the environment and the other for helping the needy. It would provide federal funds to pay 15- to 25-year-olds who work on year-round or summer service projects.

In addition, program participants would receive some education and training.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals has been involved in developing the proposal and is interested in having high schools include participation in the program in their curricula, according to the aide.

Before approving the bill, the subcommittee added amendments, sought by labor unions, to prevent displacement of adult workers. It also decided to transfer administration of the human-services program from the Department of Health and Human Services to action, a volunteer-services agency.

Legislation providing up to $5 million a year for new "geography studies centers" under the auspices of the National Geographic Society was approved by the Senate last week.

The centers would work as curriculum clearinghouses and sponsor geography-education programs for precollegiate students and teachers.

The legislation also would extend two library-services programs through 1989, when all library programs are scheduled to expire, and reauthorize the United States Institute of Peace through 1991. The institute provides grants for research projects aimed at promoting world peace.

More than half of the new jobs created since 1979 provide incomes that are below the poverty level for a family of four, according to a report by the Democratic staff of the Senate Budget

The report, "Wages of American Workers in the 1980's," argues that the share of middle-wage jobs has decreased in this decade, while the proportions of low- and high-wage jobs have increased. The number of low-wage jobs grew more than twice as fast as that of high-wage jobs, it says.

The report defines low-wage jobs as those providing an income of less than $11,611 a year--the federally defined poverty level. High-wage jobs are those above $46,444, or four times the poverty level.

The study maintains that wages "are becoming polarized in a downward direction." In 1987, it notes, 60 percent of the net rise in employment was at below-poverty-level wages.

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