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Teens Competing With Unemployed Adults For Summer Jobs

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
May 11, 2009

At fast-food restaurants, amusement parks and pools, jobs traditionally held by teens are now being filled by more mature workers, and as a result, teens are facing one of the toughest summer job markets in recent history.

USA Today notes that according to a report from the Northeastern University Center for Labor Market Studies, just one-third of teens worked last summer -- the worst percentage in six decades -- and experts expect this year to be even worse. The reason, explained Renee Ward, founder of Teens4Hire.org, is that given the choice of hiring a teen or an adult, most employers "will go with the more mature person, because they feel there is less they have to do to train them."

Moreover, the problem is expected to exacerbate as the federal minimum wage increases from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour this July, causing employers to scrutinize each potential employee more closely in order to get the most for their money.

"The first people they're going to hire are people with higher skills -- those who have a college degree or have worked before," explained Tim Miller, a spokesman for Employment Policies Institute.

"It's been really difficult," admitted Julie Laws, a high school senior from Kentucky who was quoted by WHAS 11 News [from an article originally located at http://www.whas11.com/topstories/stories/whas11-top-090508-teen-job-outlook.7ae591d.html]. "I've not had a job since March and I've been looking for another job since then. And I've applied at a lot of places and haven't gotten any responses."

At Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, employment applications were double what they were this time last year. Stephanie Forcht, a human resources manager at the theme park, explained that more laid-off workers are looking for jobs, causing more selectivity during hiring.

Dennis Speigel, president of the International Theme Park Services consulting firm, told USA Today that amusement parks are now seeing more job applicants than any year in the last 15 years. He noted that about five people are applying for each available job.

Other employers are reporting the same situation. "I've actually gotten a lot of people who are in their mid-30s coming out of careers in the housing market and financial jobs that have come to me looking for work as a server," said Kate Keyser, who works at Chadwick's restaurant in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, and was quoted by ABC 7 News.

Despite the bleak job prospects, experts are encouraging teens not to give up. "If they don't get paying jobs," said Karen Hinds, author of A Teenager's Guide to the Workplace, "they need to retool and volunteer or find an internship. . .so they are still able to develop skills over the summer."

Hinds also told USA Today that teens should think of starting businesses, such as cleaning yards or making and selling jewelry. And parents, teachers and adults, she said, should do their best to encourage teens to find work.

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