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Teen Job Outlook Is Grim

June 11, 2013

Although the overall job market is showing improvement, the employment prospects
for teens looking for summer work remain unusually bleak, with one in four
job-hunting teens idle.

Teen unemployment was 24.5% last month, more than triple the national jobless
rate of 7.6%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Those unemployment rates
reflect only those people who are actively looking for work, not those who have
given up or never looked in the first place.

Joblessness among teens ages 16-19 traditionally is far greater than the
national average, but their current unemployment rate is "really high," said
Diana Carew, an economist for the Progressive Policy Institute, a Washington,
D.C.-based think tank.

Employment rates for teens "started to drop precipitously" in 2000, Carew said.
"Then the recession exacerbated the trend," she said.

Though the economy is rebounding, the teen jobless rate has barely changed over
the past two years.

Economists say the trend is driven by a still slow economy in which older adults
and people in their early to mid-20s compete with teens for low-level jobs.
"It's a long-standing trend that employers prefer older, better established
employees," said Sophia Koropeckyj, managing director for Moody's Analytics.

Sarah Ravitz, 18, from Tampa, has been searching for a job since February,
applying to retail stores and restaurants, with no luck.

"I applied at numerous jobs and quickly learned that hiring and accepting
applications were two completely different things," she said. "I wouldn't hear
back from anyone, and I know that it was partly because of my age, which was
extremely frustrating."

The difficulty in getting a decent paying job is causing many teens to opt out
of paid work altogether and instead pursue unpaid internships, summer school and
volunteer opportunities, Koropeckyj said.

A cultural shift in work ethic also could be partially to blame, said Clark
Hodges, a financial strategist for the Dallas-based investment advisory firm
Hodges Capital Management. "The way (teens) have grown up, they've always been
handed things," he said. "They don't have the incentive or drive to work. That
may be a generalization, but I think it's a big factor."

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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