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Teens find work in local job market

The lack of employment in Pagosa Springs and in the country has been on many people’s minds lately, including teenagers.

According to a recent article by SUN staff writer Jim McQuiggin, the employment picture is brightening in Archuleta County; however, it is still difficult for people to find jobs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “... with many teens concentrating on academics, fewer are working during the summer; in recent years, teens have also faced a labor market weakened by recession, a diminishing number of federally funded summer jobs, and competition from other groups for entry-level jobs opportunities.”

Also, there is a difference in male and female employment rates. The BLS reported that the 16- to 19-year-old male employment rate dropped to 32.1 percent, down by 20.5 percent since 2000. The rate for the teen female was 33.8 percent, down by 16.9 percent.

High school students here in Archuleta County were interviewed and asked how they planned to earn money this summer.

Freshman Mesa Lynch answered, “I clean the house for my mom and work outside in the yard.”

Graduated senior Ashley Taylor replied, “I have two nanny jobs at the moment, which is three or four kids. And in the evenings I work at Sonic.”

Nate Bard, a junior at Pagosa Springs High School, responded, “Working and selling hot dogs.”

Senior Tyler Johnson answered, “Sonic.”

Junior Alex Ferraro replied, “Contract labor at Snow Wolf Lodge.”

Freshman Devyn Doctor responded, “I am earning money by working for my dad, cleaning his jobsite, and mowing lawns for a few customers, as well as babysitting. Pays well.”

BaiLee Gallegos, a freshman at the high school, answered, “By doing little jobs around the house, like painting and stuff.”

An MSNBC report indicates, “In many cases teenagers will be going head to head against adults who have years of work experience behind them. And they’ll be doing so in a job market with fewer positions available.”

Representatives at local fast food restaurants — McDonalds, Subway, and KFC — were interviewed and asked if they have had more adults applying for the jobs that teenagers usually occupy.

Lisa Romero, manager of McDonalds answered, “No, actually we have had more teens.”

Subway manager Ralph Frank replied, “No, it’s pretty much the same; there are a few adults, but that is normal. There usually is.”

Jayla Shenefield, a manager at KFC answered, “No, we have more teens.”

Fast food restaurants still appear to be a place of reliable employment for teens.

A study at Ohio State University notes that the benefits of teens working are, “... the opportunity to obtain valuable work experiences, learn time management skills, form good work habits, learn how to effectively manage finances, gain useful marketable skills, and become financially independent.”

However, the study shows the negatives are, “... less time on homework, more classroom deviant activity and less academic effort, higher rates of absenteeism, less school involvement, lower grades in school, less time with family, more conflict with parents over spending decisions, more likely to use drugs and alcohol, and development of negative views of work itself.”

Even though the negatives seem to outweigh the positives, the effects of work vary, depending on how often the student works or how difficult the work is, and where the student finds employment.

Although teens are able to work, a small percentage of parents do not want their kids to work. According to a survey by the magazine Family Circle, 66 percent of moms say yes, their teen will be working; 10 percent say no; and 24 percent say they will let their teen decide.

If you are still looking for a job, MSNBC gives 10 tips to help you find a job: “Start looking now, get the word out about your job search, plan for a repeat performance, be professional, practice interviews in advance, show some energy, dress appropriately, play up your strengths, know where to look, and if you are at least 18, consider working at a bank.”

The recession has hit everyone, yet teens in our community still seem able to find jobs. For youth, the employment picture is encouraging. If you are willing to present yourself with a positive attitude, and are willing to show your skills, the opportunities are still available in Archuleta County.