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Teen job seekers are facing an improving but tough employment market

LA teens discuss their employed and unemployed plans for the summer.
LA teens discuss their employed and unemployed plans for the summer.
Jonathan Benn/KPCC

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“Where are you working this summer?” is a traditional question asked of American teenagers on the last days of high school before summer break. But in the aftermath of the economic downturn of 2008 that crippled the national economy the answer may now as often as not be “nowhere.”

With unemployment rates holding at 8.2 percent nationally for people over 16 years of age, many jobs traditionally held by younger workers are now performed by older, more experienced people who are struggling to stay afloat. Although the number of teens getting jobs is now the highest in six years, the teen jobless rate is still over 20 percent. This means that many young workers looking for their first job may not be able to join the workforce at all.

Technological advances have also left many teens out in the cold; it is now possible for consumers to pump gas or check out at the grocery store without ever interacting with a human worker, and many of those kinds of low-skill jobs were held by younger employees.


Where can teenagers turn to put some money in their pockets in these tough economic times? Why is the job market for younger workers lagging behind the rest of the economy?


Chris Thornberg: principal, Beacon Economics