FORT LAUDERDALE — Teenagers and young adults looking for summer jobs may find a few more opportunities than in past years, but the hunt still is challenging, labor experts say. • "I totally thought it was going to be tough to find a job," said Melanie Miller, 17, of Hollywood, who recently found work at children's clothing store P.S. From Aeropostale. Miller said she didn't have to even look: Recruiters came to her College Academy campus in Davie.
But many other teens won't have it so easy.
One of four teenage job seekers is expected to be employed this summer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment among youth is the highest of any age group: 25.6 percent for those ages 16 to 18.
Employment agency Workforce One in Broward County already has filled its 900 public-sector jobs for 16- to 18-year-olds. "We started advertising in January and within two or three weeks, we had 4,000 applicants for less than 1,000 jobs," said Mason Jackson, president of the employment agency.
High unemployment means that teens are often competing with adults for jobs. "Lawns are not being cut by teens. Groceries are not being bagged by teens," Jackson said.
Many teens apply at area shopping malls for jobs, and this year that may not be a bad strategy. Retailers including Ann Taylor, Lowe's, Party City, The Paradies Shops, Big Lots and Macy's have listed summer-job openings.
But like any job seeker, teens should be prepared to give a resume to the store manager. Even with no job experience, volunteer or student experience can make a difference. Miller, who was hired by the children's clothing store, told her interviewer about her volunteer experience helping special-needs children with social skills.
Other resources for jobs are websites including www.groovejob.com, snagajob.com; and www.teens4hire.com. There's also information for recent graduates from the Department of Labor on www.mynextmove.org.
Even when a teenager finds a summer job, it may be only a few weeks' work, not the entire school break. And that's not enough income or experience for career-driven teens.
Shainna Ingram, 16, of Hollywood, will work for Workforce One's youth program this summer. But she won't start that job until late June, so she's busy looking for another. "It's pretty difficult because no one is really hiring my age right now," said Ingram, the youngest of eight children.
The Department of Labor has called upon employers to commit to hiring more young workers this summer, but many openings are available only for workers 18 or older.
UPS expects to hire 1,500 seasonal workers at 71 locations in 35 states. Individuals 18 and over can apply at upsjobs.managehr.com.
Wells Fargo has about 1,000 summer positions across the country for both undergraduate and graduate students. The bank says it typically hire 60 to 70 percent of its interns when they finish school. See www.wellsfargo.com/careers for more information.
Home Depot plans to hire 60,000 workers this summer; workers have to be at least 18. Workers can apply at individual stores.
Workforce One's Jackson is hoping the federal government again funds a summer jobs program, which it did through stimulus funding last year. He said it's important that teens and young adults find jobs early in life. "Youngsters who are unemployed are increasingly disconnected from the labor market," Jackson said.
Sometimes it takes a proactive parent. Gail Mizel, mother to Jared, 18, and Grant, 15, visited the city of Boca Raton, two years ago to put in a summer camp counselor application for her older son. When the city decided to host a film camp last year, the director remembered Mizel.
At the time, Jared was senior class president for TV production studio at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton. "She thought it was a great match," Mizel said.
Jared, who now is studying film at the University of Miami, returns this summer to a paying job at Boca Raton's film camp while Grant is a camp volunteer.
"I'm sure every young adult would like to lie around for the summer, but I thought it would look good on a resume," Mizel said. And as a single mom, she appreciates Jared making his own money for fun with friends and next semester's expenses.
"Thanks to the mom who wants them to make money," she said.