Teen Worker Discusses Job Market for Her Age Group

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

HARRISONBURG, Va -- A 2011 study shows it is the hardest it has ever been for teens to find jobs, since the end of WWII.

One Valley teen, Heather Graham, likes meeting new people every day at her part-time job.

"It's really fun," said Graham.

Graham said she is also learning at the job.

“I'm getting better social skills with people.”

This 16-year-old started working at Bruster's in Harrisonburg this summer, but she said some of her friends did not have the same luck finding work.

"They will, like, ask me to say a word about them at work and I say I really can't do that."

A study from the Center for Labor Market studies shows only 30-percent of teens had jobs during the summer of 2011.

One worker at Kline's Dairy Bar said many teenagers come in asking for applications all the time, but she said they just do not have enough openings at the store.

"We have seen a demand. I mean, people applying more," said Meagan Hoke, a worker at Kline's Dairy Bar.

Hoke has worked part time at Kline's for seven years. This college graduate said most of the workers at Kline's start in high school, but they remain employed at Kline's when they go to college.

"Since the staff has been here longer, working through college, there hasn't been a greater need for the younger girls to work," said Hoke.

Graham said living in a college town makes it hard to compete with college students.

"They have more skills and, I guess, they have more time," said Graham.

Bridgewater Economics Associate Professor David Huffman said choosing college students can harm high school students in the long run.

"The longer we go without having these students develop these skills, the fact is that they're not gonna be as marketable later on," said Huffman.

Graham, who said she beat all the odds, said teenagers seeking employment have to be persistent.
"You just have to get known by the company and make them remember you," said Graham.

Huffman said with fewer job opportunities, employers can be more selective. He said a study from this summer shows teen unemployment is a little lower than last year.

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