The latest unemployment figures are encouraging: The economy added 290,000 jobs, the biggest leap in four years. However, unemployment for 16- to 24-year-olds stands at nearly 20 percent, and as the U.S. edges closer to the summer season, it may be more than 25 percent for teens.
Well you or your teenager can avoid this summer bummer, if you know where to look.
CBS MoneyWatch correspondent Farnoosh Torabi appeared on "The Early Show on Saturday Morning" with some great tips to help kids find jobs this summer.
So why does the job picture differ for teens compared to the rest of the job market?
Torabi explained, "A new study confirms what we suspected all along was a major threat to young adults securing work in this recession: older workers."
Researchers at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. found the size of the labor market fell more than six percent for young workers, while increasing more than eight percent for workers 55 years and older between December 2007 and January 2010. The teen unemployment rate in this country is more than 25 percent - more than double, almost triple the overall national rate.
She said, "Overall, the job market is not any better or worse for teens this summer, compared to last year. There's two problems: fewer job openings and baby boomers filling the jobs that would otherwise go to teens like part-time retail, working in fast-food, and assistant positions."
And employers aren't necessarily hurting for cheap labor, according to Torabi.
She said, "The fact is, if you're 45 and suddenly out of work and need to pay your monthly mortgage, a job is a job is a job. Employers have the advantage now to potentially low-ball new hires -- even if they have years of experience."
Torabi suggested teens try for jobs at large chains, such as McDonald's or Wal-Mart.
"These jobs are scarce but if you can get a job with a large retailer go for it," she said. "These places are known to offer great training and basic job skills. Plus, these types of retailers pride themselves in cultivating their employees and promoting from within."
Torabi also suggested these tips for young job seekers:
PLAY UP YOUR TEEN-SPECIFIC SKILLS
Combat competition from the grown-ups by playing up your teen-specific skills. The TOP ways to compete against the older crowd is to 1) say you're totally flexible and 2) talk up your web and computer skills.
This works great at delivery businesses (pizzerias) where you may have to work in the evenings and stores in the mall where they get a lot of traffic on the weekends.
Adults have more responsibilities and may not be able to work any and all hours of the week like you. And if you're a pro at social networking don't be shy about it. More companies are looking for young workers to help them market their brands online. Pizza Hut, for example, is looking for a TWINTERN this summer. Offer to do the same at some local businesses. Word on the street is that they're open to the idea.
LOOK INTO FEDERAL JOBS
My federal sources say government jobs pay at least $10 an hour and the government has teen-specific openings. At jobsearch.studentjobs.gov you can look for federal jobs by city and state.
Jobs include: Helping out at the YMCA, lifeguarding, assisting at the local community centers, working in the mail room at the different military bases and more. This kind of work is getting more attention. Last summer the president's stimulus poured millions of dollars into the YMCAs, community centers, etc., just so these organizations could hire more teens. This summer they plan to hire again. Also if you go to a site like usajobs.com, you'll see dozens and dozens of listings for federal assistant jobs/clerical jobs for students at the various military bases in the country. For example, you can apply to work in the mail room at a local Navy base or be a life guard at a local Air Force base. Federal jobs pay an average $10 an hour -- much better than minimum wage.
ASK YOUR FAMILY TO GET THE WORD OUT
Ask your parents or older brothers and sisters to help you network through their LinkedIn profiles. On LinkedIn you can see all the people you know (and don't know) in your professional network. It's like six degrees of separation. With their help, hop onto their account, type in the company or business you want to work for and see who works there who may be connected to your family member in some way. And on Facebook, ask if your family can update their statuses to "My daughter or (younger sis) is looking for a part-time summer job. Would love your help!" (Incidentally this is what I did for my 19-year old brother and it worked!)
Parents: You have every incentive to get your kid out of the house, away from the Playstation and working this summer. Recognize that you have resources you can tap into to find basic jobs for your kids.
Job Prospects with Parents: Handing out fliers, filing paperwork, updating rolodexes, personal assistant work, such as running errands and making reservations
REAPPLY FOR YOUR JOB LAST SUMMER
More than 60 percent of part-time summer employers last year rehired their employees and the trend is expected to continue, so if you had a good time at your job last summer, chances are you might get your job back!
REBOUND ALERT! Businesses like local banks, retail stores, amusement parks and vacation resorts, where jobs were scarce last summer, are showing a slight rise in hiring this year, according to SnagaJob.com. So don't think that just because you got rejected last year you shouldn't try again. You may have better luck this summer. If you got rejected at Abercrombie and Fitch last summer, try again!