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Unemployment rate: Recovery leaves teens behind

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Others are not impressed with the White House plan. “The program [Mr. Obama] put out, let’s be honest, it’s a pretty pathetic initiative,” says Mr. Sum, the Northeastern University professor.  He says a better solution would be to offer government-funded tax incentives or wage subsidies to companies willing to take on teen employees. Also, brokers need to be put in place to help connect out-of-work youths with hiring managers.

Brokers like TeenForce, a northern California start-up, serve as a go-between for low-income and at-risk teens in Santa Clara County. Acting as a hybrid matchmaker, human-resources representative, and payroll office, TeenForce streamlines the hiring process for area teens and employers alike. The teens are paid by the nonprofit directly, so employers don’t have to deal with paperwork or insurance.

“It makes it very convenient for employers,” Mr. Hogan says. “Our model is definitely designed to be replicated, and scalable. Just as any community would want to have an YMCA, our vision is every community would want a TeenForce jobs program, because they work. Our vision is to demonstrate that there is a better way, that kids have value, their labor has value, and that businesses will pay for it.”

In the short term, teens who do want a job when school lets out need to start thinking about possibilities, and be prepared to get creative.

While fast food and retail may seem like the obvious places for teens looking for work, Rick Parker, senior vice president in marketing at Snagajob, an hourly employment network site, recommends applying for positions in more unexpected sectors, like car care, for example.

Snagajob conducts an annual survey of over one thousand hiring managers nationwide, in advance of the summer season, to get a feel for current trends in the hourly labor market. This summer, it’s all about timing.

“We're seeing that hiring mangers are hiring earlier this year than they have, in the past. Eighty percent will complete their summer hiring by Memorial Day,” Parker said. “If teens want the best paying jobs, the best types of jobs, they should be looking early, in fact they really already should be looking.”

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