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Rough summer job search ahead for teens

April 28, 2009 | 12:25 pm

Teenagers may want to consider just volunteering this summer; recent research suggests that the job market for the 16- to 19-year-old crowd could be the tightest since the 1950s.

For possibly the first time since 1954, fewer than 1 million teens will find summer jobs, the Chicago-based outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said today.

As discretionary spending plunges, the retail and restaurant jobs that are typically filled by teens are being eliminated, according to Challenger. Even the number of internships and lifeguard positions is thinning as teens compete with a larger pool of more experienced applicants who are desperate for jobs and willing to take a pay cut.

As a result, out-of-work teens are less likely to spend their summers dropping money on clothes, music or entertainment, especially because their cash-strapped parents are now less inclined to give handouts. 

Teen employment has been declining for several years already. Between May and July 2008, 1.2 million teens joined the workforce, compared with the 1.6 million who found jobs in the summer of 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As of March 31, 4.7 million teens were employed, compared with the 5.3 million working at that point last year. Granted, fewer teens have been looking for work in recent years. In 2006, 44% were searching or working, down from 52% in June 2000.

-- Tiffany Hsu

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