Unemployment Rates and What it Means For Teens

teen unemployment consequencesIt’s no secret that the unemployment rate in the United States is high.  Nationally unemployment is at 9% but here in Utah it is 7.3%.  A high rate of unemployment is not good for job seekers of all ages but it has some hefty consequences for teens.

According to a recent article in the Deseret News the unemployment rate for teens (age 16-19) in Utah is 26.2%.  Teens looking for summer work are being overlooked because the job market is flooded with adults who have more experience than teens do. 

Teen unemployment is a not just a problem in Utah, this is something that is sweeping the entire nation.  The biggest problem according to the Economic Policy Institute is that teens from poorer families have a hard time finding jobs than teens from middle class backgrounds.  Only 20% of poor African American teens will be able to find work, 31% of poor Hispanic teens will find jobs, and 36% of poor white teenagers will find work.   These statistics are troubling because research from the Center for Labor Market Studies shows that teens who are not employed during the summer are more likely to get in trouble and have higher rates of teens pregnancy.

One of the major problems with helping teens find work in this economy is that Federal funding is no longer available.  Sadly Federal funding for youth-related employment programs has been largely reduced.  These cost-cutting measures have serious consequences that trickle down to youth.  Businesses need Federal incentives to encourage them to hire youth and teens.  Teens who are employed in their own community are more likely to stay out of trouble, build a stronger work ethic, and exhibit a higher rate of civic engagement. 

In Utah, the problem can be even greater because we have more teens than most other places in the country.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau nationwide only 24.3% of the population is under 18, but in Utah 31.2% of the population is under 18.  With our increase in teens, it seems that we should make helping teens get employment more of priority. 

Gaining Job Experience before Getting the Job

dog walking business idea for teensFor teens who cannot find work there are ways to get job experience.  Here are some ideas to help teens stay busy and keep out of trouble:

  • Start a dog-walking or babysitting business for neighbors and friends
  • Consider working for a political campaign
  • Consider mowing lawns, house or pet sitting, cleaning people’s garages or homes, helping a neighbor paint or work on other home improvement projects.
  • Look for volunteer opportunities at businesses, schools, or senior centers to build your resume.

Helping teens stay busy and out of trouble during the summer should be something concerned adults should make a priority.  When teens approach you about the possibility of job shadowing you, or volunteering at your business or helping in your home, give them a chance.  Teens need positive adult role models in their lives, and the chance to work in whatever capacity they can.

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