, Salem, MA


July 11, 2012

Teens for hire

Youths competing with college students, underemployed adults for jobs this summer

DANVERS — If your teen is having a tough time landing a job this summer, don’t blame it on lack of initiative.

Because of the weak labor market, many teenagers — and particularly younger ones — have been shut out of the opportunity to earn some pocket money, save for college or establish a work ethic.

Several local teens say they faced an 18-and-up policy at many of the places where they applied for summer jobs.

“If it’s your first job, a lot of people don’t want to hire you because you are not experienced,” said Sarah Mountain, 16, of Danvers, who wound up interning without pay for a summer program at Endicott Park, after her inquiries at local eateries and a supermarket went unanswered. She got an offer at Brooksby Village in Peabody but opted for the internship so she could have a shot at a paid counselor’s job next year.

“A lot of places never called me back,” Mountain said. “A lot of places said, ‘You will get an email.’ Nothing ever came, and I just assumed I would never hear from them.’”

Kevin Clyne, 15, of Salem spent his first hours on the job last Friday as a lifeguard at the pool at Forest River Park in Salem after getting his certification this winter. He applied to a few places, but he knew the pool was hiring teens.

“It’s pretty hard,” he said. “Most places don’t hire unless you are at least 16.” Some of his friends found jobs “pretty easily,” he said, if they started looking early in April or already had a part-time job in the spring. They work at Dunkin’ Donuts or at a local camp program.

“It’s tough, but it’s absolutely achievable,” Clyne said of finding a job.

Labor market experts say there is a crisis in teen employment across the country as entry-level jobs have been scooped up by college-age students, adults who are underemployed and retirees forced to stay in the job market to supplement their retirement income.

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