Why more teens are finding summer jobs

A lifeguard keeps watch over McCarren Park Pool on June 28, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

Kai Ryssdal: For every headline economic indicator we get there's always interesting stuff to be had by reading deeper into the numbers. The example of choice today is unemployment -- 8.2 percent is the familiar number. Dig down, though and you see joblessness for teenagers is 23.7 percent. Competition is tough even for those typical summer jobs. But a report out this week shows a little relief down there at the bottom of the job spectrum.

Marketplace's Eve Troeh has that story.   


Eve Troeh: In Pittsburgh, Pa., 15-year-old Destiny Reber says all her friends want jobs. Most apply to Kennywood, the local amusement park, but it's hard to get in, and newcomers do the dirty work.

Destiny Reber: Starting, you're just sweeping up stuff and cleaning up puke and all that, and that does not sound amusing.

Destiny's feeling lucky. She just landed a job through a special program that hires teens at a medical center.

Reber: It'll be food service at a retirement home, $7.93 an hour.

Only two hours a day, but good for her resume.

Reber: Yeah I want to be a doctor when I grow up, so it's a good start.

In Los Angeles, 18-year-old Miriam Matthew has worked as a part-time office assistant for two years. It started as a summer job.

Miriam Matthew: It kind of evolved into something more, and now it's part of my daily life.

Now that's she's in junior college.

Matthew: I use a lot of my money towards books, different fees come up all the time.

With college costs rising, or parents still out of work, paid jobs are crucial for many teens. Job placement executive John Challenger sees more companies hiring teens now than the past five years. That's good news for older workers, too. It means they might be finding real jobs, not just summer jobs, especially 20-somethings.

John Challenger: Some of them now seem to be finding the kind of employment they're looking for out of college, the 20-t0-24-year-olds.

Instead of resorting back to the amusement park or lifeguard station with a bachelor's degree in-hand.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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