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Summer jobs falter nationally, not locally

Posted: July 18, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 18, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Recent Academy of the Canyons graduate Timothy Simon, 18, assembles orders behind the counter of Wendy's on Magic Mountain Parkway in Valencia on July 3.

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While national numbers indicate a shortage of summer jobs for teenagers, Santa Clarita Valley’s largest seasonal employers say they’re hiring just as many as previous years.

More than 44 percent of teens who want summer jobs don’t get them or work fewer hours than they prefer, according to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. California is one of the top three states most likely to have teens wanting to find summer work but unable to do so.

The figures are based on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey data from June to August 2011 by Northeastern’s Center for Labor Market Studies. They are supplemented with research from Christopher L. Smith and Daniel Aaronson, two Federal Reserve economists, as well as interviews with Labor Department economists and Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a national job placement firm.

About 5.1 million, or just 29.6 percent, of 16 to 19 year olds were employed last summer. Adjusted for seasonal factors, the rate dips to 25.7 percent.

In 1978, the share reached a peak of nearly 60 percent before waves of immigration brought in new low-skill workers. Teen employment remained generally above 50 percent until 2001, dropping sharply to fresh lows after each of the past two recessions.

Despite the decline, some of the biggest local seasonal employers say they’re continuing to hire teens as usual. Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor has hired nearly 3,000 seasonal workers this summer, the same amount as in previous years.

“This year, for the first in several years, we noticed the number of job applicants drop slightly,” said Six Flags spokeswoman Sue Carpenter. “It’s probably due to the economy picking up.”

Rob Montgomery, owner of four area Wendy’s locations, said if anything, he has been able to hire even more students during the summer months this year.

“This year seems to be a better year than last year,” he said, “so we have to staff up for that. We’re still hiring.”
Montgomery estimates that a quarter of Wendy’s employees during the summer months are minors. Wendy’s hires 16 year olds and older.

While the typical seasonal employers are holding steady, some students say their friends are having trouble finding jobs.

Paola Prado, 16, said it’s difficult for her younger friends to find employment or that those who are taking summer school classes are having a problem finding jobs that can work around their school schedule. The Canyon High School student started at Wendy’s at the beginning of summer — her first summer job, which she found through a friend who recommended she apply.

Timothy Simon, 18, just graduated from the Academy of the Canyons and has worked at Wendy’s for one year. Most of his friends, if they have jobs, are working within family businesses or other businesses they had a personal connection to, he said.

“Most of my old friends are looking for jobs,” Simon said. “They’re just not finding much.”

But, Simon has recruited a handful of students to work at Wendy’s with him this summer.

Montgomery attributes part of students’ problems with getting summer jobs to an unprofessional appearance and attitude.

“Sometimes, they do things to themselves that make it tough for them,” he said. “I think the biggest thing that hurts some of the kids if they don’t look clean cut, if they don’t like an adult would enjoy receiving food from them, we can’t hire them.”

“The jobs are available if the kids are right for the job,” he said.


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