Teens struggle to squeeze into the job market


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  • justinbl Portland, OR
    March 17, 2014 11:27 a.m.

    I agree with many others that this has a lot to do with minimum wage. Without the minimum wage, companies would be willing to create more entry level jobs. With more jobs available, there would be greater competition for employees, which is done using wages. Yes, many jobs will not pay much, but a teenager living at home with his parents doesn't necessarily need that much. You can always find people who have to struggle, and hopefully they would be able to work their way up to be able to make more, but the more people try to regulate the free market, the greater the unintended consequences. The free market is not perfect, but it does tend to even itself out.

  • anti-liar Salt Lake City, UT
    March 16, 2014 6:38 p.m.

    The giant elephant in the room everyone is tap-dancing around is the fact that illegal aliens -- often working for EVEN LESS than minimum wage -- now are taking a great many of the jobs once performed by American teenagers. The numerous calls we're seeing for LOWERING the minimum wage -- and even suspending child labor laws(!) -- points to the pure avarice and greed which has become such a prominent part of commerce in Utah.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    March 16, 2014 3:39 p.m.

    To Cinncinatus:

    Provo has the highest teem EMPLOYMENT rate ("Provo, Utah, has the highest teen employment rate in the United States with about 49 percent of people aged 16 to 19 finding jobs, Hartford Business reported.")

    This is a shockingly strong argument for less government intrusion and price control in labor markets. Teens in Provo should have a very difficult time finding work relative to their peers nationwide given the competition for part-time work from tens of thousands of college students in town. Instead, Provo has some of the lowest teen unemployment in the nation!

    Likely drivers of Provo's strong job market? 1) Young, growing demographics. 2) Entrepreneurism: A lot of teens work for highly entrepreneurial businesses - I know a lot of them in town. 3) A right to work state keeps costs of hiring and firing down, so employers have less risk. 4) A fiscally conservative state that gets out of the way of business (the libs hate this, but it is a key driver of a strong economy). 5) Demand for jobs driven by families who can't afford for the children to sit at home and play video games, and 6) a strong work ethic in the local culture.

  • jswp mount pleasant, UT
    March 16, 2014 2:53 p.m.

    As a former business owner, a pizza place, I couldn't hire teens for the most part. Child Labor laws forbade teen delivery drivers under 18, no teens using the mixer either and no teen younger than 16 around the oven or the dough roller. In a small town I employed between 4 and 10 part time employees. All of these jobs should have been filled by teens who wanted to work instead I had to hire people who were over 18 and pay them a minimum wage that Nancy Pelosi made sure was so high that my small business wasn't profitable enough to justify the many hours and effort to keep it open. (So much for job creation) Too much government regulation and not enough common sense once again destroys opportunity along with the economy.

  • Coach P Provo, UT
    March 16, 2014 2:37 p.m.

    A teen could be 18-19 or a college age student which could skew the statistics. A good amount of teens actually in the high school where I teach do NOT have jobs. A good deal of those actually desire jobs.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 16, 2014 12:10 p.m.

    RG: Lowering the minimum wage for teenagers would make little or no sense. First of all, it would be a serious disadvantage for those adults who are working for minimum wage. If you were struggling to get by, how would you feel about being passed over for a job in favor of a teenager living at home simply because they could pay him less? It also creates resentment in the workplace when you have two people doing the same work and one is paid less simply because of his age.

    As far as job creation, I used to run a small business. When I hired people, it was because I had work that needed to be done. The amount of work determined when and who I hired; not what I had to pay them. Paying half as much wouldn't have meant hiring twice as many people because from a management standpoint it makes no sense at all to hire more people than you need.

  • RockOn Spanish Fork, UT
    March 16, 2014 9:41 a.m.

    If you go to the grocery store meat department and prime rib and hamburger are the same price, which will you choose? If an adult worker and a teenager both want the job to flip burgers at your restaurant, you'll hire the adult. Unless...there's an economic reason for choosing the younger guy. Minimum wage assures more meanial jobs for adults and fewer for teens. If the teen can offer his or her services for less than minimum wage, there will be more jobs for teens. What about the adult? The easy route of a meanial job won't be there and he or she will be forced to become more qualified. Government can help with training. For the youth, getting a job, any job, regardless of pay, is essential for experience, work habits, and resume for the next job that pays better and is more in demand. For the adults, elect a president who understand real job creation, not phony government rigged jobs that last a year and are gone. Turn the private sector on and it will create new jobs, workers will be in demand and wages will rise.

  • TRUTH Salt Lake City, UT
    March 16, 2014 9:18 a.m.

    Nosea......you sound ungrateful for the opportunity to be a part of two of the great success stories in corporate history.? Perhaps next time, you should go to the bank and risk losing everything you have in a make or break world and not take the easy way out in a 9-5.....that's how you become the exceptional 1%! And don't forget that once you arrive, you too will be now paying more than half of what you earned in taxes, while those who work for you pay little or none! Who will be complaining that you don't pay enough?

  • TruthBTold SLC, UT
    March 16, 2014 8:55 a.m.


    I have a clue, If it weren't for the 1%, you wouldn't even have a job to build computers..., so you're welcome.

    It was the investment risk of the 1% who generated the jobs in the first place, and the 99% who risked nothing that complain that they don't get their "fair share".

    If you don't like your lot in life, or feel that you are getting your fair share, then I would suggest putting your own investment out there, start your own company, and then divide your earnings equally amongst all your employees.

  • Vince Ballard South Ogden, UT
    March 16, 2014 6:40 a.m.

    @ 1Reader: When I entered the work force in 1971, the minimum wage was $1.60 per hour and most men figuring to start a family felt they needed 2.50 per hour (with insurance)to make it. The cost of living has risen about eight times since then, at least for "big ticket" items. You do the math. I doubt that you realize how many working adults are receiving assistance payments, which amounts to more corporate welfare than otherwise. Also, if your employees have a tech school certificate or a bachelors degree they shouldn't accept less than $20 an hour. I'm glad people are waking up to this issue.

  • River Dog Salt Lake City, UT
    March 16, 2014 5:40 a.m.

    I don't see youngins' going around house-to-house looking for yardwork. When I was a kid, jobs were scarce, but I could always count on someone needing their lawn cut, edges trimmed and some needed weeding. Five bucks was five bucks and I was glad to get it!

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    March 16, 2014 12:38 a.m.

    Well, 1 Reader, I guess it all depends on what kind of job you are asking people to do.

  • souptwins Lindon, UT
    March 15, 2014 11:52 p.m.

    Cincinnatus Sorry but I think you read the Provo stat wrong. The article says Provo has the highest "employment rate" meaning the most teens WITH jobs. Kind of changes your point, I believe. Personally, I've told my kids that if they are heavily involved in school activities which take up their spare time and teach good work habits, I'm okay with them not having a job during the school year. So far, the 2 that are now out of the house, have done well in college and are great workers with careers well on their way. Having a job as a teen is only one way to learn the right skills for a life-long career. Playing video games and surfing the net are not among them.

  • 1Reader Sunnyvale, CA
    March 15, 2014 10:19 p.m.

    The job market has gone out of whack. I cannot find hardly any help for under $20/hr. People don't want to work for less than that--which means I cannot afford the help I need, and others don't earn what they need or want. Government assistance is typically easier for many than working (for less). If we raise the minimum wage, this will get worse.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    March 15, 2014 8:08 p.m.

    Bottom line, the out-of-work financial planner needs that job flipping burgers and that's that.

  • Nosea Forest Grove, OR
    March 15, 2014 5:31 p.m.


    I have worked at both Microsoft and Intel, designing both the hardware and the software of the computers you are so grateful for -- so thank you for your praise (and I am far from the 1%). I assure you the 1% has done very little in way of actually building these computers, by the way. The very fact that that the 1% take an increasing portion for themselves when so many more are thrown into poverty, and absolutely struggling to make it on the bottom (no jobs from the "job creators" remember), bespeaks loudly their callousness and, yes, utter contempt and condescension for the rest of us. Get a clue, please.

  • Tumbleweed Centerville, UT
    March 15, 2014 4:18 p.m.

    Younger teens who have never worked obviously don't have the experience as many adults. Giving employers a break from minimum wage and child labor laws could help employ more teens. But then you also have the insurance issue. They may be more likely to be injured on jobs with physical risks (e.g. construction) and their driving skills are not as well developed making them insurance risks.

  • Cincinnatus Kearns, UT
    March 15, 2014 1:38 p.m.

    I think there is a problem with the over all premise of this article.

    I have three children who are in the job market- all three have jobs. Even the youngest, at 16, is working 25 hours a week. I'm not discounting that the job market is tougher than it was when I was their age, but I think kids are pickier these days about what they are willing to do (just like some adults). I've heard some kids whine about taking "dirty" jobs (fast food, janitorial, etc.).

    Pointing out Provo as an example of the highest teen unemployment in the nation is fundamentally flawed. Provo (let's be real here) is not a huge city. It is also dominated by two very large universities (yes, technically UVU is in Orem). Between those two schools, you have over 65,000 college students many of whom also need jobs. As an employer, I'd be more likely to hire a college student over a high school student (maturity, experience, work history, etc.)

    March 15, 2014 12:59 p.m.

    Nosea, my experiences is that it's not the 1% at the top that are condescending, but some within the 99% like yourself. As I'm typing on my computer (developed by some in the 1%) using software (developed by others in the 1%) I for one am grateful that we have smart, entrepreneurial people in this nation. I'm not in the 1%, but if I were I would do a lot of social good like many in the 1% do.

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    March 15, 2014 11:41 a.m.

    jrgl: I'm not sure where in the article it discusses the minimum wage, and how many teens vs. adults earn it. But speaking of the minimum wage, if there could be a lower minimum wage for teens, a lot more of them would get jobs. Then they'd have experience, and then they could get a raise or get a new job with a higher wage.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    March 15, 2014 9:53 a.m.

    To "jrgl" of Cedar City, who suggests this story somehow, "blows a hole in the theory that teenagers are the only ones making minimum wage and therefore no change is necessary". I've never heard or seen anyone actually theorize that, "teenagers are the only ones making minimum wage", you have managed to have a completely 180 degree out of phase interpretation of this information.

    The fact that teenagers are having an ever more difficult time finding work actually confirms the worry that raising the minimum wage will put a consequently decreasing number of entry-level jobs into a pricing regime that **increases** competition for those jobs and place teenagers at an even greater disadvantage.

    The biggest problem of not finding work is not simply the already substantial problem of not having an income, it is not gaining the experience of work that adds to one's skills and general ability to work.

    My first formal job was as a janitor's assistant at an elementary school. I was 13 and earned the princely wage of $1.25/hr. Not surprisingly, what I learned about being reliable and working hard was worth far more to me in the long run than the money.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 15, 2014 9:26 a.m.

    It's a tough job market, but don't be so hasty to discount lazy.

  • Nosea Forest Grove, OR
    March 15, 2014 8:30 a.m.

    But the "job creators" are creating all these jobs for everyone, just ask the 1% -- we should be grateful. We should be worshiping the 1%, as they are so benevolent (or is it condescending?) to the rest of us.

  • jrgl CEDAR CITY, UT
    March 14, 2014 5:34 p.m.

    Kind of blows a hole in the theory that teenagers are the only ones making minimum wage and therefore no change is necessary.