Teens Face Tight Summer Job Market

Jun 14, 2011

When it comes to finding a job, teens have it rough right now. As workers ages 16 to 19 fill out applications, they will likely find less “help wanted” signs and more competition for available jobs. A decade ago, it was fairly common for teens to be employed at their first job or a summer employment position. According to an employment study released by Northeastern University, during the summer of 2000, 45 of every 100 teens held a job in the country.

Last summer, 27 percent of teens were employed.

According to the report, this summer will not be much better. The last four summers have produced employment rates for teen workers parallel to recorded rates from post-World War II summers, the lowest employment rates recorded.

Chanteliese Griskell, a 2011 graduate of Scott County High School, began looking for a job a month before school ended.

“I applied at The Pavilion, Steak ‘n’ Shake and Lowe’s,” said Griskell. “But most places, I haven’t heard back from at all.

Places say that they are hiring but I don’t hear back.”

Griskell said most of her employed friends had their summer jobs during the school year. Having an “in” with an employer is helpful and networking is key, not experience or what an applicant can bring to a job, she said.

“In this job market, a lot of jobs that typically go to teens have been going to other people in need of jobs,” said Griskell. “For teens, those jobs they would apply for are already taken.”

Those already hired said it is a challenging job market.

Keenan Palmer, a 2011 graduate of Harrison County High School, began applying for a summer job in February when he filled out an application for a lifeguard at the Suffoletta Family Aquatic Center. The Scott County aquatic center hired Palmer.

“I wanted to make money,” said Palmer. “Save up money for college. I am thinking about applying for a second job, but it seems like a lot of places aren’t hiring.”

Corey Ferguson, a 2011 graduate of SCHS, is also a lifeguard at Suffoletta. This is her second summer there.

Ferguson was advised to be persistent. “Keep calling and that way they actually will look at your application,” she said.

Ferguson said she considers herself lucky to be employed. Most of her employed friends work at fast-food restaurants, a field she was not interested in.

“I would say about half of my friends have jobs and half can’t find jobs,” said Ferguson. “I used to tell people the pool was hiring, but that was months ago. They aren’t hiring anymore.”

Michael Euler, who is entering his senior year at SCHS, began working as a car hop at Sonic in Georgetown 15 months ago to make extra cash.

“I heard about this job from a friend who worked here, and his dad owns the restaurant,” he said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the proportion of youth workers (ages 16-24) in the work force has dropped for three consecutive Julys. In July 2010, 4.4 million youths were unemployed.

“Be proactive,” said Palmer. “If you turn in an application, keep calling until they say no.”