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Friday, March 23, 2012 - 2:00am

Georgia Teen Jobless Rate At 28%

It looks like another tough summer for teenage job seekers in Georgia.

The state’s teen unemployment rate remains above the national average: it is roughly 28 percent, according to an analysis by the Employment Policies Institute. That puts Georgia 11th in the nation, an improvement from 2010 when the average jobless rate for teens here was more than 36 percent, the worst in the country.

“There may be more teens this year getting jobs than there were last summer, but the question is, do we have teens in this generation that have sort of missed out on the valuable life skills and job skills that come from a first job? These are experiences earlier generations did have that maybe this one is not going to be able to have,” said Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at EPI, which studies entry-level jobs.

Saltsman said teens face more competition for jobs with older, more experienced adults out of work because of the recession.

“[Teens] tend to work in these last-hired, first-fired jobs sometimes that are going to be more heavily impacted by the recession,” he said. “But even as the labor market has started to improve a little bit, I think young people still find themselves with more competition for fewer jobs.”

Many of the places where teens traditionally turn for summer jobs are also turning more to automation or customer self-service, which are cheaper for employers. (Think of the explosion of so-called fast-casual restaurants where customers order at a counter and clean up their own table.)

Saltsman said teens should start looking early for summer work, be persistent, and include anything on their job applications that might make them stand out from other applicants

He said the teen jobless rate should eventually fall into a more healthy 12 percent to 13 percent range.

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