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Hoosier Teens Need Jobs, but Outlook is Poor

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April 2, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS - Jobs will be scarce for Indiana teenagers this year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in July of last year the teen job rate was the worst since 1948. There's no sign that things have gotten much better.

Bill Stanczykiewicz, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, says teenage jobs mean more than just earning a paycheck.

"They learn those important life skills and social skills that employers are looking for, like showing up on time, how to dress appropriately, how to interact with customers and your co-workers, and take direction from your boss. "

The Center for Workforce Innovation in Valparaiso is encouraging employers to hire teens, even if just for a brief project, to give them experience.

Stanczykiewicz says that if young people want jobs, they'll have to knock on all doors.

"Teenagers need to be pro-active and they need to be persistent. They need to go to all of the places of employment in their local neighborhoods, even those that don't have a help-wanted sign out in the front window, and say, 'Would you take a resume for now and call me if something comes up later?'"

Derek Thomas, policy analyst with the Indiana Institute for Working Families, says teenagers lose on multiple fronts if they can't find work.

"They're not able to quickly get into the work force and to start gaining some skill sets and, as well, they start without those skills, then their earning levels are going to be significantly less when they finally are able to enter the labor force."

Thomas says one reason few jobs are available to teens is because many older people are finding it necessary to keep working longer.

"Half of all people ages 65 to 69 with a bachelor's degree are still working and one third of people ages 70 to 74 with a bachelor's degree are still working."

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN