Teens struggle to find summer jobs

By Alyssa Donovan

June 12, 2013 Updated Jun 12, 2013 at 2:39 PM CDT

MORTON, Ill.-- While there is improvement in the overall job market, summer jobs for teens are proving hard to come by.

A summer job with the Morton Park District has become somewhat of a coveted position but teens are getting bumped off the list of applicants by others who have more experience.

"In the employment now we're noticing a lot more adult and retired individuals, lots of college kids and we've always had a strong number of high school kids applying for our seasonal summer help," said Morton Park District Recreation Director Gary Watson.

Watson says that 10 years ago positions like maintenance crew would have been all high school kids, but now that adults are applying, they prefer to hire those with some qualifications.

"We have a few individuals that are retired, some individuals that are more familiar with the equipment like the mowers and they come with a great work ethic," said Watson.

High school and college applicants still have a shot at getting a position at the pool, but previous employees are asked back first and many are not giving up the job, and for good reason.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last month's teen unemployment was 24.5 percent, which is more than triple the national jobless rate.

This is lifeguard Kelsey Kirk's 5th summer at the pool.

"Kids getting to be my age are looking for jobs and it's great to be able to come home during the summer and know that I have a job," said Kirk.

It is the 4th year for Bryce Silverthorn, who has watched his friends struggle with summer unemployment.

"Some friends that went away for school definitely did have a hard time finding a job that wasn't minimum wage or at all," said Silverthorn.

Watson says that since the economy's decline back in 2008, more and more college kids are hanging on to their summer positions.

At the pool they received 65 applications but were only able to hire one new life guard.

"We just see kids hanging on to their work, particularly through college, post grad work or 5th year seniors," said Watson. "They are just happy to have a job."

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