27.6% teen jobless rate for 2010 an Illinois record

By Alejandra Cancino
Posted Jan. 25 at 2:19 p.m.

More than a quarter of Illinois teenagers looking for jobs last year could not find one, according to preliminary data by the Employment Policies Institute, a think-tank that focuses on entry-level employment issues.

Illinois’ rate climbed to a record high of 27.6 percent, up from 25.8 percent in 2009 and well above the national average of 25.9 percent.

“Unfortunately, in Illinois as in other states, teens still have it really rough,” said Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at the institute.

Illinois was among 15 states with the highest unemployment rate for teens age 16 to 19. Georgia had the highest rate at 36.3 percent,  up 7.3 percent from 2009.

Saltsman said teen unemployment is always higher during recessions because they are at the bottom of the career realm.  But unlike past recoveries, he said teenagers are still struggling to find a job more than 18 months after the recession officially ended.

“The unemployment rates that we are seeing here, specially for all teens, are unprecedented. We haven’t seen rates that are this high before,” Saltsman said.

Partly to blame, Saltsman said, was the minimum wage increase in July to $8.25 an hour from $8, which makes entry-level workers more expensive to hire.

“You end up having this unintended consequence, really not helping a lot of people in poverty but making it a lot more difficult for people just getting started in the workforce,” Saltsman said.

Saltsman said that though employment is expected to increase this year, teenagers might be facing another jobless summer.

A report published in July by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies found that in the last decade, and especially during the recession, teens and young adults in the state have been left behind in the labor market.

“Teens from low-income, minority families and high-school dropouts fared the worst in their ability to obtain employment in both the state and (Chicago),” the report says.

The report called for more paid internship and dropout prevention programs and for politicians to support the creation of employment education programs.

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  1. James Jan. 25 at 2:42 pm

    I can help. I am looking for 10 teens to start working now. Come into 2344 W. Fullerton Ave. (Western and Fullerton) for more info between 3pm and 4pm. Most students average $10 per hour or more. Ask for James

  2. Joey Y Jan. 25 at 2:54 pm

    Blame society, racism, and a $0.25 minimum wage increase all you want, but at the end of the day, someone too stupid to finish high school wouldn’t contribute much to any serious business, and if I had to choose someone who put in the work and was serious about their life, I’d rather not waste the drop-out’s time, nor mine, by offering them a job they don’t deserve. Maybe a growling stomach is what these brats need.

  3. Independent Jan. 25 at 4:27 pm

    It would be interesting to know what percentage of these teens never finished high school – bet that number would tell alot about their job situation!

  4. Perry Mason Jan. 25 at 4:36 pm

    its too bad you need a PHD to get a minimum wage job these days. none left for the kids.

  5. Deborah Jan. 25 at 7:00 pm

    My son is nineteen, and a full-time college student. He has had a job now for eight months, and is an excellent student and worker. Many of his teenage friends, smart and hard-working, cannot find jobs. Meanwhile, retailers and restaurants continue to hire apathetic East and South Asians that can’t speak a lick of English or answer a simple question. Middle-aged Americans like me, who remember when English was a requirement for jobs, couldn’t be more exasperated by this. I have seen elderly people lose it in the stores because these Asians are in the aisles or behind the counters and can’t help them. This is why our young, educated, teens can’t get jobs, but employers couldn’t care less.

  6. Cole Jan. 26 at 6:12 a.m.

    It would be interesting to know what the true teen unemployment rate is if they did not allow illegal aliens to work these jobs.

  7. Planwell Jan. 26 at 7:31 a.m.

    It’s true the increased minimum wage has a big effect on teen unemployment – its an economic fact. Unfortunately, the longer term outlook for this generation is even worse. As the national debt and unfunded liabilities of medicare/medicaid, social security, & public employee pensions become known and understood, they will be crushed by higher taxes and the slower econcomic growth and lack of investment that follows.