Teens may struggle to find jobs this summer

By Katelyn Gregory

RICHMOND, Va. – As the school year comes to an end, many teenagers will be on the hunt for summer employment.

They may be out of luck: The unemployment rate for teens is nearly 25 percent – and it has remained high while the rate for older workers has dropped slightly over the past year.

Based on youth unemployment rates since January, the share of teens working in jobs this summer is expected to show little if any recovery.

Summer employment is critical to the success of young people, good for business and important for the U.S economy. But as school lets out, today’s youth are struggling to find jobs that will help them develop work habits and earn money for college and other expenses.

Overall, more than 44 percent of teens who want summer jobs don’t get them or work fewer hours than they’d prefer, federal statistics show.

From June to August, fewer than three in 10 American teenagers now hold a job such as lifeguarding, waiting tables or running cash registers. The decline has been steady since 2000, with employment for 16- to 19-year-olds falling to its lowest level since World War II. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that teen employment may never return to pre-recession levels.

Of more than 3.5 million underutilized teens who withered in the job market last summer, 1.7 million were unemployed, nearly 700,000 worked fewer hours than desired and 1.1 million wanted jobs but had given up looking.

However, there is hope for the youth job market. Locally, programs like Partnership for the Future are trying to address the problem.

Partnership for the Future provides job readiness training and helps develop employability skills. While many teenagers seek summer employment, Partnership for the Future focuses on getting students internships with agencies like Capital One, Carmax and Bank of America.

“Summer jobs help the workforce, but we make sure our students have necessary skills that will help them succeed,” said Director Charleita Richardson.

Federal officials also are seeking to address the issue.

In May, President Barrack Obama announced an initiative called Summer Jobs+. It will provide nearly 300,000 summer jobs and employment opportunities for the youth.

The Obama administration also launched the Summer Jobs+ Bank: a new online search tool to help connect young people with jobs, internships and other opportunities this summer and year-round.

“The Summer Jobs+ Bank and the growing list of organizations stepping up to answer the president’s challenge are important to maintaining our commitment to the next generation of the American workforce,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

“There’s no replacement for the dignity that comes with earning your first paycheck, and whether young people are looking for a job at the retail store around the corner-or at a national park states away-they now have one place to start their search.”