Make us your home page

Summer job market for teens depressing

Unlike most of her friends, Blair Warren, 15, has a summer job at the Madeira Beach McDonald’s. She waits on Gabriel Rodriguez.


Unlike most of her friends, Blair Warren, 15, has a summer job at the Madeira Beach McDonald’s. She waits on Gabriel Rodriguez.

Fifteen-year-old Blair Warren starts a lot of her mornings this summer the same way, with a five-minute drive in the passenger seat of her dad's car, making a bee-line from her home in St. Petersburg to the Madeira Beach McDonald's where she works.

Taking orders and preparing fries. It's not the easiest — or most glamorous — first job, but unlike most of her friends this summer, at least the sophomore at Dixie Hollins High has one.

Statistically, Warren is lucky. The latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 2008 could be the worst year for new summer jobs for teens since 1958, when Sputnik fell from orbit and Elvis joined the Army.

Just 680,300 jobs for teenagers were created this June, compared to the 1.1-million hired nationally during the same month last year.

But Warren says luck doesn't have much to do with her $6.75- per-hour summer job.

Even when every position seems to have disappeared, there is usually a spot somewhere waiting to be filled.

But there's a but: "It just depends on what kind of job you're looking for," Warren said. "Fast food, it's kind of easy. But at the mall, in a clothing store, that's a lot harder."

Warren's boss, store manager Dana Pfaltzgraff, will back her up on that.

"Everybody who applies gets an interview," said Pfaltzgraff, who has been working at various Pinellas McDonald's restaurants for the past 20 years. "I have more than enough people, but if I saw a diamond in the rough, I'd take them."

But not every employer can be so flexible, especially smaller businesses with budgets tightened by rising operational costs and fewer customers.

Carl Crable, manager of a clothing and gift shop on the boardwalk at St. John's Pass, said he has been forced to turn away more than a few job-seeking teenagers this year.

"Right now, I'm full," Crable said. "If you want to work for the summer, you need to have come in before summer even started."

This season, Crable said he's hired two teenagers. Last year, he said at least four were brought in to help sell his store's merchandise, stuff like screen-printed cheerleader shorts and henna tattoos.

The reason, Crable says, is simple enough: "It hasn't been as busy here this year."

Steven Rondone, an economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, says part of the summer job slump is, of course, the economy.

"When times are tight, and people are cutting back their regular employees, they don't have room for these part-timers," Rondone said.

But in an age of cheap and fun home entertainment-in-a-box — think computers and video games — and a society more geared toward higher education, teens may be more likely to spend summers at home, or padding their resumes with volunteer experience.

"In terms of young people working, there have been some societal shifts: Kids are staying home more, and teens are doing more academic types of things with their time," said Joe Cockrell, a spokesman for job hunting Web site, which has a page dedicated to the Tampa Bay market.

That trend, says Pinellas Habitat for Humanity communications director Jamie Cataldo, can be seen on work sites across Tampa Bay, and in Habitat's reStore home-improvement outlet.

"We've found that high school students are really excited to come out and help us," Cataldo said. "If they're too young to work at the construction sites, they help out in the reStore, cleaning donations or helping customers to their cars."

Dominick Tao can be reached at or (727) 893-8751.

Summer job market for teens depressing 07/12/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 8:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Water Street Tampa unveils video showing downtown's transformation


    TAMPA — Water Street Tampa, the sweeping, 50-plus acre redevelopment project in Tampa's urban core, has unveiled new images and video of what the downtown district will look like upon completion.

    Strategic Property Partners released a conceptual image of what the Tampa skyline will look like once its redevelopment of 50-plus acres of downtown will look like. [Photo courtesy of  of SPP]
  2. Florida ranks high for workplace equality between men and women

    Working Life

    When it comes to the workplace, Florida ranks fifth in terms of gender equality, a WalletHub study released Tuesday found.

    Florida ranks high in terms of equality between men and women in the workplace. Pictured is Sandra Murman, county commissioner in 2015, talking about the differences in pay between men and women. | [Times file photo]
  3. Treasury secretary's wife boasts of travel on government plane, touts high fashion


    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later.

    Steven Mnuchin and his then- financee Louise Linton watch as President Donald Trump speaks during Mnuchin's swearing-in ceremony as  treasury secretary in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 13. [Mandel Ngan | AFP via Getty Images]
  4. Ford, Chinese partner look at possible electric car venture


    BEIJING — Ford Motor Co. and a Chinese automaker said Tuesday they are looking into setting up a joint venture to develop and manufacture electric cars in China.

    In this April 23, 2016 photo, attendees take smartphone photos at a promotional event for Ford Motor Company ahead of the Auto China car show in Beijing. Ford Motor Co. announced an agreement Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 with a Chinese partner to look into forming a joint venture to develop and manufacture electric cars in China. [AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein]
  5. Judge throws out $458,000 condo sale, says Clearwater attorney tricked bidders

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold on Monday threw out the $458,100 sale of a gulf-front condo because of what he called an "unscrupulous" and "conniving" scheme to trick bidders at a foreclosure auction.

    John Houde, left, whose Orlando copany was the high  bidder June 8 at the foreclosure auction of a Redington Beach condo, looks in the direction of Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, foreground,  during a hearing Monday before Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold.  [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times ]