Teens Sing Summer Job Blues

High school grads Chris Rojas, center, and Nicholas Struck, right, paper the local mall with job applications.
This is the second in a month-long series of reports called "Making Ends Meet" about how families are coping with the tough economy, unemployment and smaller retirement accounts.

On the last day of school, two southern California teens knew they had a tough if not impossible task ahead of them: finding a summer job and having very little luck.

New high school graduates Nicholas Struck and Chris Rojas have been papering the local mall with applications.

"The job market is wearing out so thin for kids our ages," says Rojas. "The jobs targeted at our age are taken."

"I know people who are graduated form college, and they go back to jobs we're looking for until they can find a real career, and that takes years," says Struck.

It's true, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes, that the jobs Rojas and Struck and their younger teen-age friends used to find, have dried up this summer. That's because they are being filled by people in their 20s and 30s who are settling for low paying jobs just to get by. Experts characterize it as a teen-age depression.

Just three years ago teen-age employment was at a record highest. Now, the pendulum has swung, and teens are facing the highest jobless rate in 40 years. It's expected to reach 40 percent this summer.

Renee Ward, who runs the online "help wanted" service for teens, teens4hire.org, says she's bracing for a summer worse than last year.

"Millions of kids looking for jobs this summer won't find them," says Ward.

It's a tight teen job market for many reasons: the economy; cutbacks in schools, which means fewer guidance counselors to steer teens in the right direction; and the slashing of many government job programs.

In Boston, the Private Industry Council has been trying to help teens find jobs.

"If we cannot deliver the job payoff over the next two to three weeks, it will be a summer of disappointment. And that's not merely a bad summer in our neighborhoods, that's a lost opportunity with this generation," says program director Neil Sullivan with the Boston Private Industry Council.

Back in California it's a discouraging day of hitting stores that don't seem to want teen-aged help.

Struck and Rojas are told by a manager that someone will call them.

So far, no one has called back. So Struck is trying to make some money walking dogs until he can find steady summer employment.