Teens Vie With Adults For Summer Jobs

Jane Nguyen, a Boston teen who has a summer job at the New England Aquarium.
In Boston, 17-year-old Jane Nguyen and 16-year-old Xavier Niles-Charls both want summer jobs.

"I need the money so I can support myself," said Jane.

Jane has one all lined up, reports CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston. She'll be working at the New England Aquarium, where she's already in training.

Xavier has already applied for six jobs and had no luck.

"What are they saying to you?" Pinkston asked.

"That either that they have too many teens or that they don't have the space," Xavier said.

Xavier is typical of the thousands of other teens in Boston and around the country struggling to find work. This summer teens are competing with unemployed adults for low wage jobs.

The new federal stimulus bill provides $30 million for summer jobs for youth in Massachusetts. But, here in Boston, income restrictions will severely limit the number of teens who actually get work. For example, if a teenagers family of four earns more than $28,600 dollars a year, the teen doesn't qualify for a federally funded summer job.

"I don't know how many families in Boston can meet that criteria," said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

To give more teens an opportunity, Menino is allocating $4 million for summer jobs, even while the city makes painful cuts to balance the budget.

The mayor takes personal interest in the teens. His office sponsors career skills workshops and a special hotline to help teens looking for work. So far, Menino has enough money for 5,000 jobs, but at least 10,000 teens have applied. That's a worry for him.

"How important is crime prevention in providing summer jobs?" Pinkston asked.

"It helps with the issue of violence in our city, because you keep kids busy and working during the daytime, they're too tired at night to go out," Menino said.

The mayor is hoping businesses, despite hard times, will hire teens like Xavier.

"Not too many of my friends had any interviews," Xavier said.

For those still looking for work, Jane has some advice.

"Practice with your friends, mock interview with them, you need all the practice you can get," Jane said.

Its good advice in a tough market. The percentage of teenagers with jobs in Massachusetts is just 38 percent, the lowest level since World War II.