Summer is a Bummer of a Time for Teen Jobs

By: Seth Doane/ CBS News
By: Seth Doane/ CBS News

(CBS News) It is a rough summer to be an American teenager looking for a job.

The latest numbers show that 24-percent of 16- to 19-year-olds are unemployed. CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports that their main competition is older workers who in these times are after the same jobs.

Not since world-war-two have as few teenagers been in the labor force. In 2000, teenagers were twice as likely to have jobs as those 65-69 years old. A decade later, there's been a reversal, with more older folks working, and fewer teenagers.

Alex Rodriguez, 17, thrives on competition, but not the type he's seeing in the job market. Nationally, three out of four teens cannot find work.

"I've applied to every store. I've called them. I've had my mom call them. I've had my teachers here helping me," Alex says.

Alex says that unending hunt is difficult.

"You can only apply to so many jobs and especially when you don't get the phone calls back. That gets you upset," Alex says.

His teacher, Mary Ellen Rafferty, says in last year's class of twenty students, 18 had jobs. This year, only four do.

"It's discouraging to want even a minimum wage job and be told those aren't available to you at this point. They can't even aspire to that next level of job because the entry-level jobs are the ones that aren't available," Mary Ellen says.

Rodriguez started in January looking for jobs ranging from a custodian to a clerk at a retail store.

The job market is especially tough for Hispanic teens like Rodriguez. Northeastern's Center for Labor Market Studies found just 21 percent of Hispanic teens were employed last summer, compared with 32 percent of whites the same age.

For Rodriguez, it seems even when he gets good news, it's bittersweet. Accepted to a community college, he doesn't know how he'll pay the $4,000 per year tuition.

"That's my fear for a lot of these students: If they don't get to go to school in the fall because of a lack of summer employment - or a part time job - they won't ever go back to college," Mary Ellen says.

For Rodriguez, that summer job may be the difference between a high school diploma or a college one.


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