Summer could produce increase in temporary jobs for teens

The Outlook

March 24, 1996|By Timothy J. Mullaney

ONCE spring arrives, it can't be long until summer job hunters are on the prowl. What will they find? The economy is growing slowly, and Maryland's job growth has been slower than the nation's since the last recession. Government summer-job programs are under pressure on Capitol Hill, where Congress still hasn't passed a budget for the Labor Department. In response, Gov. Parris N. Glendening last month appointed a commission to find other ways for the state to help youths find summer work.

So, will Junior be paying for his own gas this summer or not?

Anirban Basu

Economist, Regional Economic Studies Program, University of Baltimore

Last year was pretty bad for summer jobs. If you looked at sectors where summer jobs tend to be plentiful, like retail trade, construction and services, we had very little growth at that time. Correspondingly, there were very few summer jobs available.

This year should see a moderate improvement. We expect retail trade, for instance, to enter a fairly healthy phase in the middle of the year, with tourism leading the way. We're seeing the nation pick up considerably, more than we ever imagined. Personal income, spending, employment nationally, all seem to be rising faster than had been predicted and are certainly rising faster than in the second half of 1995. For example, in construction, I think we can expect about 5,000 to 5,500 summer jobs. Because we expect housing starts to bounce back somewhat in Maryland, summer jobs should be better. I expect we created about 4,000 summer jobs in construction last summer, which is not very many.

In retail, I expect there to be about 8,200 summer jobs created. Last year, we probably created about 6,200. Consumers are going to be in a much stronger position than last year.

In services, I expect about 12,500 summer jobs. Last year we probably created about 10,000. It's anything from data enterers to people who work their summers for temporary help services. It also includes people who work at law firms for a summer, people who work at architecture firms, that kind of job.

Eugene A. Conti Jr.

Secretary, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

Right now there is no public [summer job] funding available. These were federal funds in the past to deliver between 7,000 and 10,000 summer jobs for people 14 through 21, generally with public agencies or nonprofit groups. Last year, we received $10.2 million [in Maryland]. They had 9,800 people enrolled last year.

They could range anywhere from conservation corps-type jobs, where kids are outside cleaning up areas, to clerical jobs in offices. Part of the week they may actually be enrolled in some kind of classroom training. It's not expensive, and money goes directly into kids' hands for school supplies and clothing. It helps them stay in school.

Congress originally rescinded all the money that would have been available for this coming summer. Now the Senate just recently, by a vote of 84-16, voted to restore funding of $635 million. I think Maryland would get in the neighborhood of $7 million to $8 million from that.

The commission's responsibility is to do what we can to stimulate private summer jobs, and, if the federal money does become available we'll be able to have a bigger program than we've ever had.

We're looking to do 6,000 or 7,000 jobs without federal money. With federal money, we would do 12,000 to 14,000 total.

Alan Paisner

Regional Commissioner, Bureau of Labor Statistics

The only light I can shed on that is that right now there's not a lot of growth in the Baltimore economy. Employers are not necessarily seeking people to handle the work flow they anticipate in great numbers.

Another thing that keeps people on the summer payroll is government funding, and that obviously is not a positive this year. Because we've been operating on continuing resolutions from week to week, we don't know how much money will be provided for those programs.

Suzanne Jackson

Director of Human Resources, Phillips Seafood Restaurants

We'll hire about 435, just at this [Ocean City] location. They're basically students, the large majority. [Hiring is projected to be] the exact same [as last year]. We're confident the economy will be relatively similar to last summer, but also our management team is operating more efficiently. They're very cost-efficient when it comes to labor. We'd welcome it if Ocean City would burst at the seams and we'd have to hire additional help, but being optimists, we're looking at a summer similar to last summer.

Pub Date: 3/24/96

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