Monday, May 07, 2007

Jobs In Berkeley

Ah, Berkeley:
Every teenager and young adult who lives in Berkeley would be promised a summer job under an ambitious plan the City Council is weighing.

The council will take the first steps Tuesday toward guaranteeing a summer job for every resident 14 to 23 years old.


"Berkeley over the years has developed a pretty good reputation for working with young people. We have to extend that reach," said Councilman Max Anderson, who along with Councilman Darryl Moore and Bates proposed the plan. "Certainly the needs are there."


Every summer the city gets about 400 qualifying applicants to fill 100 to 150 jobs. The jobs, which typically pay $7.50 an hour for 30-hour workweeks, are mostly in the city's parks and maintenance departments.
This from the SF Chronicle. I appreciate the sentiment, but I'm not sure the still-in-school demographic ought to be the highest priority in terms of increasing employment opportunities.

What's more, one of the city's motivating factors is the fact that crime tends to increase in the summer. It's not clear, though, that summer vacation is the major culprit. The number of hours being spent out and about, both by potential victims and potential criminals, increases in the summer. Bicycle ridership - and therefore bicycle theft - also goes up with the temperature. People leave windows open to cool off, allowing easier home or vehicle intrusion. Lots of things change in the summer, and it's not obvious to me that school vacation is one of the major contributors to crime increases.

Of course, the evidence does strongly suggest that lower unemployment is strongly correlated with lower crime, but I don't know that that observation is meant to cover 14-year-olds. In any case, I'm pretty sure that whatever employment/crime relationship does exist is likely to hold more strongly for people who aren't also in school than for those who are, since students are disproportionately dependents of others.

So maybe kids aren't the members of society most in need of jobs.


Rebecca C. Brown said...

I'm aware of several sets of data from across the country that indicate that crime is directly correlated with temperature. Pretty nuts, huh? Your analysis of the reasons is pretty sound, P-Brun.

If the goal is to keep kids busy (which is noble for any number of reasons, not just as a way to keep kids from tagging AC Transit bus shelters), why not shell out a few bucks for community activities? It's probably more expensive than I realize.

Paul said...

Well, one of my hobby horses, of course, is extending the school day. My understanding is that extending the school day by 30% raises the costs of schooling by about 20%. That would be about $1500/student in California.

But yeah, other sorts of community activities would probably be cheaper. I think a large part of the reason they're cheaper, though, is that they're not mandatory and so serve only a fraction of all students - and probably a subset that is disproportionately easy (i.e., cheap) to serve.