And it’s driving parents nuts
- Last Updated: 3:43 AM, July 8, 2012
- Posted: 1:03 AM, July 8, 2012
New York’s sky-high youth unemployment rate isn’t just hurting teen wallets — it’s driving parents crazy.
“They’re in your face all day. Without the routine of work, we’re butting heads more than in the past,” says Staten Island mom Karen O’Shea, whose 17-year-old daughter, Kate Huey, is jobless this July. “She’s frustrated, I’m frustrated, and there’s a lot of tension.”
While the national unemployment rate remains mired at 8.2 percent, the traditional teen summer job is rapidly becoming extinct.
The national unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds stood at 23.7 percent in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In New York City, the outlook is even grimmer. Teen unemployment is a stunning 35.6 percent here, according to the Employment Policies Institute, a nonprofit research group.
“It’s so much anxiety,” Huey said of the process of filing more than a dozen applications and making countless are-you-hiring visits to local businesses. “They don’t take me seriously. It’s like they don’t want to talk to a teenager.”
“High labor costs for businesses make this recession uniquely difficult for teen workers,” said Michael Saltsman, an Employment Policies Institute research fellow.
“Teens are definitely facing competition from older, more experienced workers,” especially in industries like food service and retail that once provided a wealth of summer jobs for young people.
The local share of teen workers in those sectors has dropped sharply in the last five years.
“A lot of the places where I tried to apply wouldn’t even let me,” said Francesca Seaborg, 17, of Staten Island. “They said to come back when I turn 18.”
Teens who manage to score interviews aren’t faring much better.
“I was the youngest one in a group interview for a shoe-store job,” Huey said.
“Everyone else was in college or older; one woman there was an accountant. I thought, I can’t compete with all their experience.”
She never heard back from the employer.
“We have never seen teen unemployment this bad for this long,” said Saltsman.
Nationally, the teen unemployment rate has remained above 20 percent for 45 months and counting.
That means more than just another bummer of a summer for teens short on pocket money. It could also spell trouble for their long-term job prospects. Work experience as a teen correlates with higher income and better job security years later, Saltsman said: “Teens are missing out on the skills that let them get better jobs down the line.”
“The experience that first job gives you helps prepare you for life,” said O’Shea. “It’s worrisome for me as a parent that Kate isn’t getting that chance.”
She plans to create a home-based work experience by paying her daughter to baby-sit her little brother William, 3, for the rest of the summer.
“Since she doesn’t have a job, it would be good if Francesca could help a little more around the house,” agreed Kathleen Cotter, Seaborg’s mother.
“But what really stinks is that so many parents aren’t prepared for college costs. No summer job means the college burden is even heavier.”
Teen unemployment rate nationally: 23.7%
In New York City: 35.6%