NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Teenagers looking for work this summer at public pools, amusement parks and camps may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
Just 960,000 teenagers landed jobs between May and July of last year, the lowest amount of summer jobs for this age group in more than 60 years, and one prominent career firm predicts that the number will be little improved this coming summer as budget problems at the state and local government levels limit the potential for new hires.
“Any teen hiring gains achieved in the slowly improving private sector could be offset by losses in the public sector, where teenagers often find summer employment as camp counselors, lifeguards, office assistants, laborers and clerks,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which put out the report.
Challenger notes that several cities around the country have already announced plans to hire fewer teens this year than in 2010. Chicago, for example, intends to reduce the number of summer jobs for teens by 22%.
The labor market in the U.S. has been particularly tough for teenagers in the recession, as companies have cut back on hiring and older unemployed workers have increasingly been forced to compete for the lower level jobs typically reserved for teens and college students.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that was analyzed by Challenger’s firm shows that summer job openings for teens first took a nosedive in 2008 at the peak of the recession, dropping by 29% from the previous year. The amount of summer positions remained essentially unchanged in 2009 from the year before but dropped by another 17.5% in 2010 as the economy remained sluggish.
While government budget cuts will likely force public organizations to reduce job offerings, the firm also predicts that the rising cost of energy may force private companies like hotels and amusement parks to cut jobs as well to compensate.
Even with the cutbacks, there will still likely be 1 million jobs for teens this summer, give or take, meaning many teens will still be able to find summer positions, but it may require a shift in their job hunting strategy.
“The key to success for teen job seekers will be an aggressive approach to the job search,” Challenger said.
For many teenagers, this could mean starting the job search earlier and also going beyond the usual practice of applying for jobs online and just waiting for a reply. Challenger suggests that teens “get out from behind the computer” and approach business owners in their communities in person about potential job opportunities. In particular, he encourages teens to reach out to mom-and-pop stores, and even nearby families, who may be in need of someone to do basic tasks like cleaning and babysitting, even if they don’t currently have a job opening advertised.
“Some of the best opportunities this year may be for the odd-job entrepreneur,” Challenger said. Indeed, that lesson may apply to many workers today of all ages, not just teens.
For more ideas about where to work this summer, check out MainStreet’s roundup of summer jobs that pay well.
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