Youth Jobs Coalition protest in Copley Square calling for more teen hiring

Members of the Youth Jobs Coalition gathered in Copley Square Wednesday afternoon to protest what they call a lack of teen hiring by Bain Capital, LLC, accounting firm Ernst & Young, and other Boston companies.

While the city’s youth employment program reached its goal of 10,000 jobs this summer, members of the coalition say that more needs to be done. They cited statistics from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University that show only 39 percent of Massachusetts youth had jobs last summer, compared with 62 percent in 1999. The city’s statistics show that among the 590 Boston companies with 100 employees or more, 80 percent do not hire teens for summer jobs.

Lewis Finfer, a leader of the Youth Jobs Coalition, said Bain and Ernst & Young had not returned calls seeking a meeting about the issue and that the group would hand-deliver letters during the protest to ask for such meetings. At the demonstration, which attracted about 40 youth and organizers, the group also applauded youth hiring efforts by John Hancock and State Street Corp.; the group defines youth as 14- to 18-year-olds.

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Officials at Bain and Ernst & Young said that while they do not directly employ high school students, each company has an internship program for college students and runs or supports various efforts to educate and support youth.

Nakieshia Fullington, 19, said she was joining the protest to show support for companies that hire teens—and to scold those who don’t.

“Teens can easily fall into a bad crowd that can have a negative influence,” Fullington said. “[Giving teens jobs] matters because it keeps them active and helps you know exactly where you want to go in life.”