While the overall job market may be steadily improving, teenagers face unemployment rates far greater than for adults.
According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, teenagers face a 24.5 percent unemployment rate, meaning about one of every four teens looking for the job isn’t getting hired.
About 7.6 percent of Americans are out of work, according to the latest national numbers. In Madison, the unemployment rate was around 5.2 percent as of May.
With more than three times the unemployment rate than the country overall, younger job seekers are experiencing the struggles firsthand.
Abbie Homan started her lifeguard position at Seminole Pool this week.
“There are a lot of teenagers trying to find a job,” Homan said.
The 17-year-old swimmer said she was lucky to know the pool manager and to be familiar with how to get the proper certifications. Homan said she’ll have to keep her nanny job from last summer in order to stay employed through vacations and other obligations.
“I don't really know where else I would have worked because I know a lot of places that have waiting lists to get a job there,” Homan said. “And it's just hard to find a job, I guess.”
At Metcalfe’s Market in Hilldale, Taylor Balzer has scanned groceries since September. She applied for any and all open positions, and did so for months before she landed the job.
Now that she’s out of high school, Balzer went to a full-time schedule, trying to earn more money before starting at MATC in the fall.
“It was tough, yeah. It is tough still,” Balzer said.
Balzer still sees the struggle at home, where she said her mom is trying to get a second job. Her mom has even applied to work alongside her daughter at the store, a sign to Balzer that competition for employment is tougher than ever.
“We are competing with adults, you know,” Balzer said. “College students, adults, high school students. Everybody's competing for a job, and it's kind of sad that it came down to that.”
Metcalfe’s Assistant Store Director Tom Edwardson said the company chooses to hire employees of all ages because the younger workforce brings another skill set to the store. The market hires kids as young as 14.
In addition, Edwardson said high-school-aged employees tend to stick around summer after summer for work and are typically not looking for benefits.
“They're tech-savvy, they understand these computers, they're quick learners, and that's what we're looking for,” Edwardson said.