Recession Takes A Bite Out Of Young Job-seekers' Pockets

'Brutal' Competition Has Students Stymied

July 17, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

They're saving for cars and for college.

But because the job market in Carroll and elsewhere hasn't been as lucrative as in summers past, many college and high school students will find themselves pinching pennies longer to afford those expenses -- if they're working at all.

"It's been harder to find jobs because of the economy," said Kim Coleman, supervisor of the metropolitan Baltimore office of Kelly Services, a temporary employment firm. "We've had so many students and teachers who want to reactivate work with us, but the jobs aren't there. We haven't been able to bring as many on board as in previous years."

State and regional unemployment figures for June are not available yet, but the rate is expected to take its seasonal climb, reflecting a surge in young job seekers, said Paul Manacher, a Department of Economic and Employment Development spokesman.

"Although a lot of people hire youngsters for their businesses, unemployment is still up," Manacher said. "We're still in the throes of a recession, although it's bottoming out."

Pat Arnold, DEED's director of labor market analysis and information, said unemployment rates and figures are not broken down to track youth. The unemployment rate for June, though, will reflect the 15,000 to 17,000 youngsters entering or attemptingto enter the labor market.

"It's a tough time, even though the numbers of youth are smaller than the numbers have been in recent years," Arnold said. "The recession really does seem to have made the job search a little bit longer in almost all cases. In some cases, it's made it very long."

Locally, there are telltale signs of an unsettled economy. Employers report increased numbers of applicants, more phone calls from job hunters and more college graduates on the lists ofapplicants for temporary summer positions.

"We've had an increased number of graduates looking for work," said Jim Haneschlager, vice president of human resources for Londontown Corp. of Eldersburg. "It's a different dimension for us. From what we're hearing from the graduates, it's difficult out there."

He estimated the firm hired about 15 students for summer jobs, ranging from light clerical work to shipping and receiving. He said the number is on par with hiring in previous summers.

Having the easiest time finding summer jobs are those returning to former employers.

"A lot of college kids come backhere year after year," he said.

Corinthia Y. Elkins, owner of Elkins Services Inc., a Westminster-based temporary employment service, said many college students return to her firm each summer for job prospects. For the most part, she said, they have been successful in finding work.

Overall, the number of job seekers this summer has increased, but opportunities are fewer. Elkins even had college graduatesknocking on her door.

"I've never had that before," she said. "That says a lot about the job market."

Finding jobs always has been tough for youngsters under 16, but this summer has been particularly brutal, said Lynn McDonald, special projects coordinator for the Job Training Partnership Administration, a federally financed program that provides work experience for disabled and disadvantaged students.

"The competition is tough," she said. "There are a lot of adults who are out there looking for work, and many of them are taking jobs that would normally go to students."

She said she has found studentssubmitting many applications but often not receiving responses. Somehave been successful finding jobs at fast-food restaurants.

Anticipating the job slump, McDonald said, JTPA stretched work experience opportunities by cutting the number of hours youngsters work. She said some 60 youngsters have found minimum-wage jobs with government andnon-profit agencies.

"A lot of them are grateful to have the workexperience," she said. "This experience teaches them a lot about trying to get a job and staying on a job. After a summer or two of work experience, it's much easier to go out and get a position on their own."

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