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Summer job picture brightens for teens

The improving job market has lessened competition for the low-skill, low-pay positions typically sought by teens. But youths will have to be resilient and pound the pavement to get them.

April 25, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
  • Bronte Cox,18, left, from Van Nuys, Bernice Rivera,17, from Panorama City, and Walter Donley,18, from Van Nuys, right, work on job applications for Swirls Deserts, at the Westfield Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks.
Bronte Cox,18, left, from Van Nuys, Bernice Rivera,17, from Panorama City,… (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

Teenagers looking for summer work will have a better chance of finding it this year, according to outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The improving job market, the firm said, has eased competition for the low-skilled, low-paying jobs that traditionally go to teens on school break.

The employment environment for high-schoolers and other young folks has made a dramatic recovery since falling to record lows in 2010, when the number of 16- to 19-year-olds working during the summer months was at its slimmest level since 1949.

Last year, youth employment from May through June perked up 13.2%, or by 1.08 million jobs. The number is expected to grow again this year, though the ranks of working teens still won't be quite as full as they were before the recession.

Older and more experienced job seekers, who recently poached teens' summer break jobs in their scramble to find work, are now moving on to better-paying positions, the firm said. Government-funded jobs at public camps, beaches, pools and parks — which have been in scarce supply through rounds of budget cuts — seem to be reemerging.

Employers still aren't offering jobs freely. Job-seeking teens, who usually give up their search after being rejected a dozen times, will need to be more resilient, according to Challenger.

There are plenty of recent college graduates and twentysomethings on the prowl, as well as retirees hoping for some easy, income-boosting work.

Teens who want to make some money this summer will need to pound the pavement rather than filling out online applications. Many small businesses don't advertise open positions on the Internet, and neither do families looking to fill odd jobs such as baby-sitting and lawn mowing, according to Challenger.

But more and more teens don't want to bother with the job hunt, opting instead to spend their time on academics, sports, volunteering and other activities. Of the 11 million 16- to 19-year-olds who were out of the labor force last year, 90% weren't considering working — a number that has steadily increased since 1994.

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