The Toughest Summer Job This Year Is Finding One

Posted by Kendall Harmon

School is out, and Aaron Stallings, his junior year of high school behind him, wanders the air-conditioned cocoon of the Woodland Hills Mall in search of a job.

Mr. Stallings, 18, says he has been looking for three months, burning gasoline to get to the mall, then filling out applications at stores selling skateboard T-shirts, beach sandals and baseball caps. He likes the idea of working amid the goods he covets. But so far, no offers.

“I’m going to go to Iraq and get a job,” he says acidly. “I hear they’ve got cheap gas.” He grins. “I’m just playing. But I’ve been all over, and nobody’s hiring. They just say, ‘We’ll call you tomorrow.’ And no one ever calls back.”

As the forces of economic downturn ripple widely across the United States, the job market of 2008 is shaping up as the weakest in more than half a century for teenagers looking for summer work, according to labor economists, government data and companies that hire young people.

This deterioration is jeopardizing what many experts consider a crucial beginning stage of working life, one that gives young people experience and confidence along with pocket money.

Little more than one-third of the 16- to 19-year-olds in the United States are likely to be employed this summer, the smallest share since the government began tracking teenage work in 1948....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsEconomy

3 Comments
Posted May 25, 2008 at 5:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Dave C. wrote:

Mr. Stallings, 18, says he has been looking for three months, burning gasoline to get to the mall, then filling out applications at stores selling skateboard T-shirts, beach sandals and baseball caps. He likes the idea of working amid the goods he covets. But so far, no offers.
.      .      .      .
Mr. Stallings has applied for jobs at the Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa. “I’ve been all over,” he said, “and nobody’s hiring.”
.      .        .        .
“Pretty much everybody is hiring,” said Andy Irick, director of operations for Sonic, a restaurant chain based in Oklahoma, complete with blaring music and servers on roller skates. “If you walk in and you’re clean cut and presentable, you’re going to get a job.”

The author of this “news” story goes to great pains to suggest the reason Mr. Stallings can’t get hired for a summer job is because he is black or perhaps because of the economy,  he doesn’t live in the right neighborhood, or he doesn’t have the right connections.  It seems quite likely, though, the real reason he hasn’t found a job has to do with his self-imposed limitation on the narrow type of places he is willing to work in.

May 25, 10:23 pm | [comment link]
2. Branford wrote:

I don’t know, in southern California, there’s always cheap illegal immigration labor so many landscaping companies, etc., that would have summer work just go to that job pool. Also, my understanding from other things I’ve read (I’ll have to hunt up the link) is that many teenagers are not willing to do those types of jobs and because colleges stress additional interests so much, many are doing internships, extra classes, etc. Don’t know how much of that might come into play here.

May 25, 10:26 pm | [comment link]
3. Doug Martin wrote:

The school schedule harks back to a time when we needed summer labor to pick the crops.  It’s still true.  The young man lives in or adjacent to one of the largest agricultural regions in the state.  The strawberry business in Ventura is failing for lack of help and they pay well.  There is still citrus to be picked and it pays well.  But its not air conditioned and you have to be careful which chicks you chat up.  He should join a long history of California’s young men who expanded their horizons working outside their normal cultural comfort zone.

May 26, 8:30 am | [comment link]
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