Study finds teen summer employment at 37-year low

Friday, August 30th 2002, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The rate of summer employment for teens has hit a 37-year low, says a Northeastern University researcher who attributes the decline at least partially to the troubled economy.

``The steep decline in youth employment is driven by the economy,'' said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern.

The study done for the National League of Cities found that 38.9 percent of teenagers from ages 16-19 were employed on a seasonally adjusted basis during June and July of this year. That was the lowest percentage since the summer of 1965 when the employment rate for teens that age was 38.5 percent.

``This summer left behind an extraordinarily large number of teens out of the paid labor market,'' Sum said. ``These wasted resources are widespread across every gender, race and family income group.''

He said the increasing number of teens who are going to school or who don't want to work in the summer is a factor.

``There have always been a large number of kids who want the summer off,'' Sum said. ``But relative to the recent past, the numbers of young people who want to work but are left out has risen.''

He estimated that almost one of four teenagers in that group _ about 3.5 million _ either are unemployed or want to work more hours. That was an increase of 600,000 teens over the summer of 2000, when 45.9 percent of teens were employed.

Sum said factors that contribute to the lower employment rate are a weakened labor market, increased job competition from unemployed adults and recent college graduates, a rising number of teens, and a dearth of summer jobs programs specifically targeting teens.

The study found that the employment rate for teens fell among many demographic groups, but the rates for black and Hispanic teens were far lower.

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