Economy Unkind To Teen Jobseekers
By TAYLOR GRIFFIN
Sam McCurry, 19, of Tyler, has been on the prowl for a summer job since his semester at college ended in May, but so far, he has been unsuccessful.
He attributes the difficulty to another age category of workers getting hired instead of teens.
"I think it's the people in their 20s and early 30s who are taking the jobs away from students, and it's harder for us to keep up," he said.
The hunt for a summer job this season has been much harder for teens than they expected.
Fewer than three in 10 teens -- 16- to 19-year-olds -- in America are holding down a job from June to August, according to The Associated Press. Overall, more than 44 percent of teenagers who look for a summer job don't find one or will work fewer hours than they want.
The drop in teen employment can be partly credited to a cultural shift, as more and more students are spending their break at camps, summer school or other activities.
"We're seeing a cultural change. Parents used to tell their kids, go to the retail store or gas station and find a job in the summer, but it's not happening as much anymore," John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, told the AP. His company is the oldest executive outplacement firm in the United States.
McCurry admitted that most teenagers look for a certain type of job or environment to work in, but he believes there simply isn't much to choose from jobwise this summer.
"Teens can be a little picky, but I don't think the quality of jobs for people like us is out there," he said. "There aren't enough jobs for people our age."
Crystal Merritt, youth career advisor at Workforce Solutions East Texas, said she understood the situation teens face, but that while there are many explanations for why companies are not hiring, some employers will not hire that young because they do not have enough experience.
Volunteer work, she said, can help impress a future employer and eventually help land a job. However, Ms. Merritt said lack of work experience isn't always the problem.
"A lot of these kids aren't getting jobs because they lack the skills to get one," she said. "They don't know how to interview properly, fill out an application or dress app ropriately."
Susan Guthrie, city managing director of external relations, said for Tyler, which hires certified lifeguards and high school interns, attaining a summer job is a competitive process. The ones who are most qualified, able and skilled get the job, she said.
However, she encourages everyone to keep searching because any summer job gives back more than just a paycheck.
Summer jobs "give a wide variety of experiences," she said. "It gives you the opportunity to check out different professions and can narrow down options when choosing a career."
Ms. Merritt sees summer as prime opportunity for companies to hire students, and these kinds of jobs are always a benefit for students down the road.
"Summer is always a busy time for most companies. They could use the extra help," she said. "They can provide jobs that can mentor kids, and it's good for experience."
Through Workforce Solutions East Texas, teens have been hired this summer at places such as Wal-Mart, local day care centers and the YMCA.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.