It was not an easy time for teens to find work in the Philly metro area in 2000. It was worse in 2012.
Already low employment rates fell for everyone younger than 25, according to a Brookings Institution study.
By the close of the first decade of the new millennium, teens from 16 to 19 in the greater Philadelphia metro area were likely to sound like Janee Gray, a student at Constitution High School.
“I have looked for jobs online. I applied to Checkers, Chipotle, Chick Filet, Southwest Grill. I couldn’t find a job,” she said. “It was so hard.”
The teen employment rate fell most sharply nationally and in greater Philadelphia. It dropped more than 10 percentage points, with only 28 percent finding full- or part-time work in the last year of the study.
“When you try to apply for a job, they want somebody with experience and not everybody has experience,” Gray said.
It’s not that teens today are less qualified than their predecessors, said Brookings scholar Martha Ross. They’re being beat out by older workers
“They are often at the back of the line in terms of their appeal to employers, and in a slack labor market they are disproportionately affected,” Ross explained.
She and her co-authors propose schools and businesses could help make youth more competitive by offering partnerships to train them in skills now in demand.
Ross also advises students to stay in school. The job market continues to be rough in your early 20s, she said.