Teens Struggle to Find Work as U.S. Market Strengthens

The United States jobs market remains strong, but teens are still struggling to find work. High school and college students are having trouble finding employment. Record low unemployment has helped teens, aged 16 to 19, enjoy unemployment rates that dropped from 34.1% to 20.5% in Washington last year.

Higher hourly minimum wages are partly to blame for the lack of teens being hired, as employers try and justify paying inexperienced teens $11.50 an hour in Washington. Some states choose to maintain the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, making it easier to justify hiring teens.

States are working on programs that will help students gain experience and skills in the workplace.

Employers want to hire workers with more job experience instead of “trying out” teen workers that lack experience. Teens must go the extra mile to prove that they’re qualified for a job. Lack of a proper resume is also hurting teens. Teens that have yet to enter the workforce have little to add to their resume, turning to resume templates to help fill in the gaps.

Students are also building their work ethic. Many employers that have hired teens claim that they’re “just not motivated.” Many teen workers also want to limit availability, making it difficult for employers to justify their hiring.

“Across the country, contacts observed persistent labor market tightness and brisk demand for qualified workers,” the Fed said in the report earlier in the month. Labor tightness is being reported by businesses, as wage gains in many regions continue to push upward.

Economic activity in the country expanded at a “modest to moderate” pace in February, with price gains being moderate. The U.S. central bank also chose to raise interest rates at a policy meeting earlier in the month. Economists expect the rates to rise three times in 2018.

The Atlantic reports that fewer teens are finding summer jobs.

Figures show that in 1978, 60% of teens had or were looking for summer jobs. The statistics from 2016 show that just 35% of teens had or were looking for summer jobs.

The trend shows a staggering drop in teens entering the workforce in the summer, but indicators point to education rather than being lazy for the trend. More teens are opting to take summer classes and go to college rather than working in the summer. High school graduates enrolled in two- and four-year college programs has grown by 25%.

The rise in enrollment has a direct correlation to the number of teens not seeking summer jobs.

Low-skill immigration has also made it more difficult for teens to find jobs. Immigrants are choosing to work in many of the sectors that teens used to choose, including retail, restaurants and grocery stores.

Older workers are also staying in the workforce longer. These individuals have a more extensive resume and experience than teens. Federally funded summer jobs, which used to help teens work for the local government, are also declining and making it harder for teens to find employers willing to hire them with no experience or skills.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.