Students discover finding a summer job difficult
Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 23, 2012
Andrew Mason just started his second summer as a lifeguard at Eamon Park Pool.
The 16-year-old rising junior at Salisbury High School said he’s always wanted to be a lifeguard.
“I have always looked up to them and wanted to be just like them,” he said. “… This was a job of my choice.”
Mason is fortunate. He is among the few teens across the country finding a job this summer.
Fewer than three in 10 American teenagers now hold jobs such as running cash registers, mowing lawns or busing restaurant tables from June to August, based on an analysis of Census Bureau Current Population Survey data from June to August 2011 by Northeastern’s Center for Labor Market Studies.
The decline has been particularly sharp since 2000 — when more than 50 percent of teens had summer jobs — with employment for 16- to 19-year-olds falling to the lowest level since World War II.
And teen employment may never return to pre-recession levels, suggests a projection by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The drop in teen employment, steeper than for other age groups, is partly a cultural shift. More youths are spending summer months in school, at music or learning camps or in other activities geared for college. But the decline is especially troubling for teens for whom college may be out of reach, leaving them increasingly idle and with few options to earn wages and job experience.
Older workers, immigrants and debt-laden college graduates are taking away lower-skill work as they struggle to find their own jobs in the weak economy. Upper-income white teens are three times as likely to have summer jobs as poor black teens, sometimes capitalizing on their parents’ social networks for help.
‘Feel like giving up’
Overall, more than 44 percent of teens across the country who want summer jobs don’t get them or work fewer hours than they prefer. In North Carolina, that figure swells to nearly 53 percent.
Karla Rivero has been job hunting since the middle of May and still has not been contacted by a single employer.
Rivero, a college student on summer break, has applied for positions in retail, office assisting positions and numerous restaurants.
“At this point, I feel like giving up, but I am still going to keep trying to apply because I do not feel like I should give up,” Rivero said.
Some local teens are finding summer jobs.
Jalea Shaw, a rising senior at North Rowan High School, recently found work at Bojangles’ as a cashier.
“I chose to get a job because it will keep me busy this summer and help me to earn money for college,” she said. “I plan to stay employed there after graduation and longer if I can.”
Though Shaw is using her job to save money for college, Harry Holzer, a labor economist and public policy professor at Georgetown University, said summer work may be even more important for people who don’t plan to continue their education after high school or who drop out.
For them, Holzer said, “their early work experience is more closely tied to their success in the labor market.”
Some businessesprefer teens
Some local employers are specifically looking for teens to hire.
Rodney Curlee starts his summer hiring process around late April and early May.
General manager at Wendy’s on East Innes Street, Curlee said he looks for high school students who are likely to stay in the community. He hires sophomores and rising juniors who will make Wendy’s their first job, hoping they will stay around for years to come.
“If staff levels are good, I may hire an extra two to three teens,” Curlee said.
And summer isn’t the only time teenagers can look for a job. Some employers seek for their help throughout the year.
“Teens are a valuable resource for our associate team, not only just for the summer, but year round,” said Benny Smith, a Food Lion spokesman. “We routinely hire associates, including teens, to fill positions with our company.”
Food Lion seeks to fill positions as they become available, Smith said, but the company sees an increase in interest among teens seeking summer jobs in late spring.
“We see more teens who apply for summer jobs because of their flexible schedules due to summer break,” Smith said. “This gives our company an excellent resource to choose from when looking to hire new associates.”
Smith didn’t say how many summer jobs might be available at local Food Lion stores, but he said the company is always looking to hire qualified employees.
To apply for jobs at Food Lion, visit the company website at https://hrweb.foodlion.com/ATS/ATS/JobBoard/searchjobs.aspx .