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Missouri Governor Talks Youth Unemployment In Wake Of Ferguson Report

Elle Moxley

A day after a Department of Justice report called out the Ferguson, Mo., police department for racial bias, Gov. Jay Nixon was in Kansas City to tout a summer jobs program he says will help low-income young adults land their first job.

"It's where you first learn the value of a hard day's work, the pride that comes with earning your own paycheck and the liberty of spending it how you want to," says Nixon, "but for too many kids in low-income and minority communities, these opportunities just are not available."

Young people ages 16 to 24 whose families earn less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level – about $45,000 for a family of four – can participate in the program, which will provide job skills training and match them with a local employer. Statewide, 3,500 jobs are available.

The newly-created Office of Community Engagement will administer the program.

"What we're trying to create for young people is a pipeline that will take them directly into a future," says Maida Coleman, a former state senator from St. Louis who is in charge of the office.

Nixon says creating economic opportunities in disadvantaged communities is one way to begin correcting the issues highlighted in the DOJ report on Ferguson out Wednesday. He says Missouri also must address "use of force" laws.

"Your hope when you see something this jarring is that it is an outlier," says Nixon. "But deep inside you, you know there are still challenges and problems throughout our state."

Eds. note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified how many jobs would be available. There will be 1,500 in Kansas City and 2,000 in St. Louis.

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