Employment Anxiety Now Starts in High School

Unemployment has trickled down to affect some of the youngest workers in America: High school students looking for part-time summer jobs. 

According to a recent report on Reuters, kids in the New York City area in search of temporary employment face their third bleak summer in a row.

Government work programs have been scaled back. In New York City, federal programs “had 52,000 summer jobs for teens in 2009. Now the program is half that size. It has five applicants for every job.”

Additionally, teens must compete with adults, also looking for jobs in lower-paying slots. Apparently, the stats haven’t been this high since World War II:

Teens – often the last hired and first fired – suffered the toughest summers on the job front since World War II in 2010 and 2011. This summer, the outlook is chilly – again… In April, the U.S. unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds was 24.9 percent – and much higher in some major metropolitan areas.

Have your teens been looking for summer jobs? Any luck?

Photo: Flickr


Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.


  1. Government work programs have been scaled back. In New York City, federal programs “had 52,000 summer jobs for teens in 2009. Now the program is half that size. It has five applicants for every job.”


    Remeber prof, sometimes you get what your badly spelled protest signs ask for.

  2. My college age son got a job in Montclair at a local restaurant. Several teens I know also lucked out with the same. It didn’t seem to be that difficult – what I hear is that college internships are very competitive, and not that many around.

    My other teen is starting his own business!

  3. I like these articles mainly because it reminds one to dive in to the BLS Employment Report more frequently than the 1st week of each month. Also the May report has been available for some time so lets use that. See below for several other U3 rates worth discussing.

    Also for context the article should mention that the rate for 16-19 year olds was around 15% during the best of times (2006ish). Also the participation rate was higher as well 43% vs around 33% now.

    When you go to the voting booth in November please do not let all these terrible facts (along with housing prices, the trade deficit, manufacturing data, inventories, consumer confidence, etc) cloud your judgement. Vote Obama.

    25+ = 6.9%
    Asian = 5.2%
    Black = 13.6%
    White = 7.4%
    16-19 = 24.6% (article referenced April)
    Men20+ = 7.8%
    Women20+ = 7.4%
    Bachelors degree or higher and 25+ = 3.9%

    ALL: 8.2%

    link to all BLS reports


  4. This is kind of a non-item, no? And a very badly “reported” one at that. I also have a hard time imagining teenagers suffering at any time from “employment anxiety” (perhaps Ms. Milsop found this a witty usage, but there’s no justification at all for it in the item as written), whether they come from relatively rich or relatively poorer families.

    When I was s teeanger, several then-major employers in Passaic hired heavily for the summer months: Okonite, an engineering firm which occupied the old Dumont factory, a few piece due works places (truly backbreaking. skin-staining work, after three weeks my arms and neck resekbled those of a Tuareg) and, particularly, the parent company of today’s J. Crew, Popular Merchandise, which took on well over a hundred teens come summer. I actually went back there for my fourth summer in a row after leaving the piece dye factory.

    But I never suffered from “employment anxiety.” (Anyway, shouldn’t it be “unemployment anxiety?”) I worked to support my weekend jaunts to the teenage wonderland that was the bars of Greenwood Lake, to re-chrome and rebuild my ’54 panhead and to pay my fraternity dues and social charges for the following school year. It was terrible, filthy labor in warehouses and factories lacking so much as a table fan, but these were the days long, long before internships. As a rite of passage and a glimpse of the American economy at its most basic, frankly, it all sucked. Sure helped affirm my basically Republican viewpoint, too.

  5. That was in part my point Cathar. Going from 15% to 25% unemployment rate in this age group while the participation rate drops 10% is kind of a non event. I posted the other stats because some of those are worth focusing more on. Need to focus on the disparities for sure, but I would also argue that with Obama in the Whitehouse we are probably very close to if not already at full employment.

  6. Interesting Cathar….I worked in a lot of crappy factories, but it never affirmed a Republican viewpoint for me. What it affirmed to me was to stay in school and be the first in my family with a college education. Life based on a political affirmation is living in a tunnel to nowhere. Declare your independence now.

  7. Stayhypy,
    “close to full employment” ???
    You have to be a Republican.
    Based on the most basic economic measures of the near-term US economy, I doubt there is a Democratic operative dumb enough -at any level- that would even go down that road. And if one could be found to say it, the Republicans would be to0 awe-struck to rebut…and probably afraid it was some elaborate trap by the DNC.

    In a modern capitalistic system, it is almost impossible to have full employment during, or at the onset of a recovery, from a severe recession….unless you have a large war or a big plague.

  8. Frank, the 5.0% unemployment that we had that was considered “FULL” was not real. The massive exportation of jobs was muted by the government fueled Greenspan induced housing bubble. No longer being a manufacturing based economy and instead being one that benefits from massive scale in terms of production efficiencies (that a word?) I argue full employment under a non business friendly government at least is closer to that with a U3 rate of 8%ish. A more pro business approach maybe gets you to 7.0% but I don’t think we do much better. We still should try though.

  9. Of course the kids are worried… who else is going to help mom and dad pay Montclair’s property taxes?

  10. I will note this, PAZ: remember how in inspirational, Frank Capra-type movies the full-time factory workers always support the studious immigrant who has “plans” and goes to night school? I very rarely saw any of that atmosphere and encouragement. Instead, there was often active resentment of “lazy college boys” if you got into the wrong department for the summer or, more likely, total indifference to the situation from the full-timers who were stuck there year-in and year-out, just did their jobs and kept their mouths shut.

    Best place to work at Popular (“best” being a relative term, of course) was the catalogue shipping operation, which was almost entirely summer workers. The girls packed catalogues and slapped mailing labels oin them, the guys brought the pallets of “raw” catalogues up and humped them into mail sacks. And there sure was a lot of socializing going on.

    Worst job at Popular was baling waste, where you risked serious injury from baling wire whipping around. Foremen delighted in rotating college students through that assignment.

    I also worked in an icehouse for a while, where the key “skilled task” was lifting up 320 pound ice blocks with tongs so they could be force fed into the cube-cutting machine. The head guy there, whose arms were scarred and permanently red and severely chafed and suffered from severe arthitis, told me there that by the end of the summer I’d look “just like him.” I fled that one after 4 days and it made me appreciate office work all the more.

  11. And, PAZ, what would I declare my independence from? My fealty to? To a distanced former “community organizer” and law wchool prof who apparently never himself has ever held a genuine blue collar job and outrageously and tackily has attacked the Supreme Court more than once in speeches when it appears their decisions will not please him? And to his true boob of a running mate who was caught plagiaring not once, not twice, but THRICE (from the speeches of Neil Kinnock, far left Labour Party honcho) during his own ill-fated run for the Presidential nomination? To their former Speaker of the House who famously runs vineyards where the workers are not even alloed to unionize?

  12. Cathar….The boomerang generation is not going to have fealty to either party. No one has you in a hammerlock to choose sides. Gridlock comes from both sides of the aisle but I think our generation can’t stop from picking the lesser of two evils….Our day has come & gone and we’ve been had. Time to move on.

  13. Worst summer job I had was at one of these summer lakes doing maintenance. It was in the mid-80’s during the garbage strike and a heat wave. Everyday the place was packed due to the heat and the garbage piled up. Herb had the unenviable task of making more room in the dumpsters by re-stacking and shifting 2 weeks old bags of used diapers, food and worst of all rotten watermelon which today the image still haunts me. You just learn to deal with it. Get my pay, fulfill my sports obligation and then off to the Meadowbrook, Aldo’s Hideaway (Depression Night) or Fatso’s. Man great times and that still remains one of the best summers of my life.

  14. Paz, I was watching Huckabee the other night and he had college kids in the studio and had one rep from each party. There were separate q & a sessions (so there were no debates) on why you should support them (no interjection from the host). Each presented their case then took questions. The thing I noticed is how many of them just don’t connect with either party and many of them said they were going to support Gary Johnson. I don’t want to get in a debate because I pretty much know where most of us sit but I just see more kids claim that they go the Libertarian route . My only thing is, a lot of these college kids say they are “Libertarian” but I don’t think they really understand what it is. There are so many variations of it. Just adding to your point.

  15. Thankfully, I was racing BMX all the summers of my teen years, so I never really “worked.” But in college, I was a summer “conference assistant,” which was loads of work- getting the dorms ready for incoming conference attendees who stayed on campus- and, well, hanging out with the other kids.

    Though right after college, I got a job with Midlantic Bank’s (remember them? PNC now, I think) in their Branch Manager training program (yes, the prof almost was a banker). For it I was a teller (remember them?) for a month- no fun, I could never get my money to add up right- then I left and attended Art School.

  16. Cathar,
    I can understand why you ddn’t go back to the dye house, but the formaldehyde must have done something to you to go back to PCP”s Dayton warehouse 3 more summers. That place was pretty bad.

  17. The teen years are so fleeting. Youthful fun and exploration is my idea of summertime for teens. Not work! I like the Prof’s summers.

  18. Sorry Dag but reality clicks in when you need that extra money to get by. My youth was spent trying to make money to buy a car and become somewhat independent and give my father a break from me sponging money.

  19. All chores performed at home (yard work, painting, garbage detail, assisting with car repair) was compensated with free room and board. Any spending money had to be earned outside of the home. My “summer” job ran from January to December for 3 of my high school years working after school and weekends at Hahnes (remember them?) in Newark with occasional jaunts to the Montclair store. A much cleaner and healthier environment than Cathar’s jobs.

  20. It’s hard for many teens without any experience to get that first job, the one where they can begin demonstrating their worth and learn responsibility.

    Keep that in mind when you hear proposals to raise the minimum wage, which will make it more expensive to hire first time workers like teens. If you make something more cost more, like first jobs, don’t expect more of it.

  21. Frank Rubacky, I honestly don’t recall formaldehyde there on Dayton Avenue. PCP, after all (and despite those pesky, suggestive initials), didn’t actually manufzcture anything itself, so any formaldehyde would logically date back to the site’s Botany Mills days, no?

    Besides, and here I’m just noting, the Federally employed mail handlers who took sacks of catalogues from us and actually loaded them on PO trucks sold marijuana and pills between snoozes on the mail sacks.

    And where else would I have worked back then, Frank? I’d already done the summer between my junior and senior years in h.s. working building greenhousea at Julius Roehrs & Co. in Wallington for the whopping sum of 85 cents an hour (in the days when “agricultural work” was not covered by the Minimum Wage Act). I remember one Polish-speaking co-worker (few spoke English save the supervisors and the summer crew) cutting his pinky off while slicing a loaf of bread for his lunch. Everyone else just ignored his screams while I wrapped a cloth round the guy’s finger and a fellow summer worker ran for English-speaking help.

    Compared to this, even Popular seemed like a safe haven. and as I said, there were all those college girls in the catalogue department.

  22. Lastly for tonight (Mets are almost on), here’s one of my favorite NYT headlines from the 70’s: “Students, Depressed Over Lack Of Summer Jobs, Heading To Europe In Record Numbers.”

    I’ve always felt that headline alone summed up certain aspects of the core political dilemma for the Times very nicely indeed, by the way.

  23. Thank you, PAZ, but I know better. Besides, they’re now called “memoirs” and are usually written by 27-year-old malcontents with screwed-up backgrounds and the tendency to overrate same in terms of literary interest as they “look back” upon their lives. (You can even take classes in how to write one, amazingly, and they fill up quickly.) But for me, no.

Comments are closed.