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Helping teens find summer work

With one of the toughest job markets for kids in decades, the hunt for work takes more skill.

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It may be easier for Indiana Jones to uncover an extraterrestrial artifact than for a teenager to dig up a job this summer. Prospects for such seasonal work look grim, which makes it all the more important for teens not to give up – and to think creatively.

Many American teens will be off to camp or summer school. Others may travel or simply want to stay home. But for the rest, competition for summer jobs is expected to be fierce.

Only about one-third of teenagers 16-to-19-years-old will find a job this summer, a sign of slow economic growth and higher minimum wage for all workers in the US. In fact, their employment rate this season is expected to be the lowest in six decades, according to a study from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.

Low-income and minority youths will have a particularly hard time finding work. For them, the study says, the job picture may look more like "a Great Depression." Some companies are cutting back or delaying summer hiring, while a tight job market is driving unemployed older workers into traditional teen jobs.

Summer jobs are much more than a way to earn money for the next video game or pair of sneakers. In poor families, they provide a crucial boost in household income. More than that, these jobs provide valuable experience, which leads to better employment records, the study says. Disadvantaged teens who work in the summer are more likely to stay in school. Teen pregnancy rates are lower in urban areas where more young women work.

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