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L.A., other California cities have some of the worst teen job rates

March 14, 2014|By Ronald D. White
  • A group of Los Angeles teenagers listening to a talk about job interview skills during a work readiness class. A new report said fewer than 2 in 10 area teens can find jobs.
A group of Los Angeles teenagers listening to a talk about job interview… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Teenagers throughout the nation are having a tougher time finding work opportunities, but few are finding it more difficult than those living in the Los Angeles, Long Beach and Santa Ana region.

The details come from a gloomy report released Friday by the Brookings Institution titled "The Plummeting Labor Market Fortunes of Teens and Young Adults."

Among teens aged 16 to 19, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Santa Ana were dubbed the lowest with fewer than 2 out of every 10 teenagers able to land a job (a 16.9% employment rate).

They were followed by only slightly higher teen employment rates in Modesto (17.4%); Riverside, San Bernardino and Ontario (17.7%); Fresno (18.3%); and San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara (19.2%.)

The top five metropolitan areas for teenage employment rates, the report said, were Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, (43.2%); Omaha, Neb.-Council Bluffs, Iowa (42.3%); Des Moines, West Des Moines (42.2%), Salt Lake City (39.9%); and Wichita, Kansas (38.3%).

The report's authors said this was grim news for several reasons. Among them: Evidence suggests that teen employment is associated with improved employment and earnings outcomes later in life.

"You are more likely to flounder later in life if you don't have these early employment experiences," Martha Ross, a fellow at Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program said in an interview.

But why is California so low?

"Los Angeles' overall unemployment rate is above the national average," Ross said. "And even in the best of times teenage unemployment is often higher than that for older workers."

High dropout rates and the number of low-income households are also a factor, Ross said.

Ross added that the generally tough job market also has older people taking jobs they would not ordinarily accept, leaving fewer of those positions for teenagers.

Even places like Silicon Valley are tough places for teenagers to find work, Ross said, because of the high number of well educated college students who are available for hire.

The Brookings report said several things might help in any community, including more business and school partnerships and internships related to academic fields of study.

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