Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Economy hurts & helps teens

CHICAGO (4/1/09)--The economy is handing teenagers a mixed bag these days: Adults fill most job openings, but volunteer opportunities likely will open doors to some future jobs.

Adults are getting the open food service, retail and customer service jobs that teenagers traditionally hold as unemployment figures climb for both age groups ( Mar. 21). That's bad news for teens competing for fewer jobs that typically draw hundreds of applicants for minimum-wage positions.

Employers have become more selective, opting to hire an experienced adult worker who needs a job to support a family. That's a contributing factor in the increase in teen unemployment to 21.6% (38% for African-American teens) in February, a 17-year record high, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

School guidance counselors advise that, although the chance for employment may seem bleak, teenagers be persistent and thorough when applying for a job:

Make sure your application is complete and legible;
Follow up with a phone call or a second visit to ask about the status of the application and likelihood of an interview; and
When you get an interview, dress appropriately and remember to turn off your cell phone.

The economy may limit job opportunities for teenagers, but that hasn't stopped them from supporting charitable causes. According to a recent Harris Interactive poll by the Federal Way, Wash.-based charity World Vision, more teenagers volunteer (56%) than work part time (30%) ( Feb. 23).

More than 80% of parents or guardians say their teenagers volunteer themselves, recruit friends and others to help, donate cash, or don a button or T-shirt to support a cause.

Volunteer service is required on many college application forms. And volunteering can be an excellent way to learn a skill, develop teamwork experience, and decide on a career.

Many credit unions have volunteer youth advisory boards that provide feedback on financial products, services and educational events for teens. Contact your credit union and ask about volunteer opportunities for teenagers.

For more information, read "Investing More Than Money" in Money Mix: Launch Your Life.

courtesy of

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