Jobs for Teenages Are First to Go in Poor Economy

Jobs GraphThere are certain things that define being a teenager: shopping at the mall, going to prom, and enjoying the freedom of having a car. But all of these things cost money, and in an economy where teenage jobs are the first to go, many of today’s young adults have struggled to find a job to help pay for these luxuries.

According to TIME Magazine, teenagers comprised 3.9 percent of the working population in 2010 – a significant drop from a high of nine percent in the mid-1970s. The result is that students are having a difficult time finding employment and settle for less than ideal jobs because of the limited options.

Caitlin Jackson is 25 years old and currently an assistant manager at Delia’s, a clothing store in the Columbia Mall. She believes that the teen job market has become more competitive since she was a teenager in high school.

“It was not hard at all to find a job when I was a kid. I would submit an application and start working a month later,”said Jackson. She also said that teenagers now are involved in more extracurricular activities that limit how much they can work and create scheduling problems.

“Teenagers have to go to school and work and their hours are not as flexible as [those of] a college student or young adult so [college students] are more likely to get hired,” said Junior Jilanne Pruitt, who works at KidSpace at Columbia Association. She submitted an application in March and received the job in August.

While Pruitt was able to find a job at her top choice for employment, Senior Gabe Smith had to widen his search after his initial hunt for employment.

“Do not rule anything out when you are looking. I used to think, ‘Oh I do not want to work at a fast food place,’ but then I realized that was the only place I could work,” said Smith.

According to Senior Jordan Oxner, employers in this economy are reluctant to hire teenagers because teens are stereotyped as unreliable. “No one wants to hire teens because they think we are irresponsible,” said Oxner, who has been looking for a job for the past two months.

Jackson believes that students can increase their chances of getting a job by plying at the right time and being responsible about the process.

“Find out the peak hiring times and submit your application right at the beginning of those times,” said Jackson. Delia’s only hires employees at least 16 years of age with a work permit. The peak hiring time for the summer season is April, which means that people who submit applications in April are more likely to get hired.

Paloma Encinas, Wilde Lake graduate and manager at Francesca’s Collections, stressed the importance of having a positive attitude and making a good impression.
“It was difficult getting my first job because I was shy, but once I knew how to talk to people and gained confidence it became a lot easier . . . When looking for a job remember to be confident and outgoing,” said Encinas.

Considering the competitive nature of the teenage job market, Pruitt believes that persistence is crucial in searching for employment nowadays.

According to Pruitt, “My advice is to always keep looking and if you have submitted an application but no one is getting back to you, follow up and contact them asking them if they have seen your application . . . If you really want the job and you show it, you will get it.”