Calling for work that honors the dignity of the human person, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenksi of Miami echoed the words of Pope Francis, noting the troubling rise of young adult unemployment. “Our challenge this Labor Day is to rise to the challenge of solidarity posed by Jesus,” said a Sept. 1 letter by Archbishop Wenski, who serves as the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. “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 archbishop said. In the letter, he noted that though the economy has grown and unemployment decreased in the past year, job growth has been limited, leaving a high poverty rate and an unemployment rate among young adults of 13 percent, “more than double the national average.” Many more young adults throughout the country, he said, face under-employment, high debts, and few job opportunities. Young adults around the world face even worse prospects, he continued, saying that many youth globally “have resorted to the unstable and sometimes dangerous informal economy in an attempt to make ends meet.” The archbishop remarked that “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.’” “Meaningful and decent work is vital if young adults hope to form healthy and stable families,” Archbishop Wenski stated, adding that more should be done to support young adults and provide a foundation for raising a family. Failing to support fair work, he warned, has serious consequences, contributing to a drop in the birth rates and declines in marriage. “Although not the only reason, many young adults, because they are unable to find decent work, are delaying marriage and starting a family,” he said. To help young people, Archbishop Wenski encouraged support of policies and institutions “that create decent jobs, pay just wages, and support family formation and stability,” thereby honoring the dignity of workers and of work. “Raising the minimum wage, more and better workforce training programs, and smarter regulations that minimize negative unintended consequences would be good places to start,” he suggested.
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