The economists are calling it “the jobless recovery.” Unemployment, particularly among young people, remains high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only half the young people in the U.S. aged 16 to 24 managed to find jobs over the past summer. That is the lowest rate since the bureau began keeping records in 1948.

As the numbers show, the young clients at the Youth Job Center in Evanston face an uphill battle in finding work. They struggle alongside their parents to cover basic needs such as food, shelter and the high cost of energy.

Health insurance often takes a back seat on the list of priorities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 44 million people have gone without insurance at some point this year. More than half remained uninsured specifically because they simply could not afford it, the CDC said. Meanwhile, research consistently links reduced income and health problems. As salaries drop, individuals tend to be more stressed and lead less healthy lifestyles. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that people living in poverty tend to have more chronic illnesses, more frequent and severe disease complications and make greater demands on the health care system.

Young people – those in the age group of our clients – are the most under insured of all Americans. According to a federal study, nearly 20 million young Americans have no health insurance at all.

That is why we are calling for health care reform. Having worked for years with young people – and seen the devastating effects of poverty – we want to lend our support to members of Congress and President Barack Obama in their effort to provide quality health care to all Americans. We support a federal health care overhaul that will

Make health care affordable for all Americans.

Enable more middle- and lower-income people to obtain health insurance.

Prevent insurance companies from rejecting individuals because of pre-existing conditions.

Protect people who lose their jobs from also losing their health insurance.

Prevent people who suffer catastrophic illness from falling into poverty and bankruptcy.

Continue a high level of support for Medicaid.

Allow parents to include children up to age 27 in their health insurance plans.

Many of the clients of the Youth Job Center do not have health insurance. Over the years, when we asked them what kind of job they wanted, they answered, “One with benefits” – in other words, one that offers health insurance.

We have seen firsthand their inability to get quality health care and seen the problems that causes in their young lives. We ask the supporters and friends of the Youth Job Center to join the call for meaningful, comprehensive health care reform.

Ann Jennett is a founder and retired executive director of the Youth Job Center of Evanston. Mary Wilkerson is a board member of Youth Job Center, Family Focus and School District 202.