WASHINGTON--The high unemployment rate of young adults, both in the United States and around the world, is the focus of the 2014 Labor Day Statement from the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami. The statement, dated September 1, draws on Pope Francis' teaching against an "economy of exclusion" and applies it to the millions of unemployed young adults in the United States.
"For those fortunate enough to have jobs, many pay poorly. Greater numbers of debt-strapped college graduates move back in with their parents, while high school graduates and others may have less debt but very few decent job opportunities," wrote Archbishop Wenski. "Pope Francis has reserved some of his strongest language for speaking about young adult unemployment, calling it 'evil,' an 'atrocity,' and emblematic of the 'throwaway culture.'"
Archbishop Wenski added, "Meaningful and decent work is vital if young adults hope to form healthy and stable families." He noted that in other countries unemployment among young adults reaches as high as three to four times the national average.
Archbishop Wenski said policies and institutions "that create decent jobs, pay just wages, and support family formation and stability" help honor the dignity of workers. "Raising the minimum wage, more and better workforce training programs, and smarter regulations that minimize negative unintended consequences would be good places to start."
Archbishop Wenski noted that Pope Francis has called young people a source of hope for humanity. "We need to do more to nurture this hopefulness and provide our young adults with skills, support, and opportunities to flourish," Archbishop Wenski wrote.
He also called for greater solidarity: "Since each of us is made in the image of God and bound by His love, possessing a profound human dignity, we have an obligation to love and honor that dignity in one another, and especially in our work."
The full text of the 2014 Labor Day Statement is available online in English: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/labor-day-statement-2014.cfm