At many career and job resource centers, it has been a tough task trying to find employment for young people this summer, in large part due to the struggles the national and state economy has endured.

“Part of the difficulties in trying to find employment for teenagers this summer, as opposed to previous years, has been we have no summer youth employment program,” said Program Director Babatu Bektemba of the Community Build Family Source Center in Los Angeles. “That is not a reality this year. The county is providing employment for youth, if they meet a certain criteria: If they are in foster care; if they are food stamp recipients. Our organization is usually able to find the kids work in retail sales. We get them jobs in shoe stores and clothing stores. Also, the culinary arts–(because) many teens can get jobs at restaurants.

“Additionally, we help youth attain summer work at parks and recreations (facilities) and the YMCA. And there is work we help youth get with non-profit organizations,” Bektemba said. “But job placement has been more difficult this summer.”

California’s overall unemployment rate, at 12.3 percent, is one of the highest in the nation, according to the Employment Development Department (EDD). Among Blacks in California, unemployment is at 15 percent. As of June 2010, the Los Angeles unemployment rate was 12.2 percent; in Palmdale, it’s 15.2 percent; and in Lancaster, it was 17.1 percent. These statistics, accumulated by EDD, indicate that acquiring employment in California, although possible, is a difficult task. The unemployment figures for teenagers are even more challenging.

According to the non-profit Employee Policies Institute, the average unemployment rates for teens in California as of April was 34.2 percent, third worst in the country.

For years among Antelope Valley youth, summer employment could be found at Six Flags Magic Mountain. That still holds true; the amusement park has employed youth from the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys, says Sue Carpenter Six Flags spokeswoman. “Between our water park and our theme park, we hire over 2,500 employees.”

Jobs at Six Flags include those as ride operators, in food service, and retail. “It is a great opportunity for (college) students and high schoolers,” Carpenter said. “We’re really, really good about matching that person and their job skills with the open position.”

Finding a summer job opening for many teenagers requires perseverance. A reliable means of transportation is vital. If a teenager does not have a vehicle of his or her own, a dependable family member or friend with a car, or a strong knowledge of the local public transportation system is integral to gaining and then maintaining summer employment.

The age range for summer workers starts at 14 (a work permit is required) and typically goes up to 18 years old at many organizations and companies.

While finding a summer job has been made more difficulty by the economic doldrums that has engulfed the country, there are various tools for youth to use to successfully gain employment:
*Young people should decide on the type of summer job they want or need. This includes deciding the type of job, the location, hours, and pay.

*Develop a resume, which is a listing of all your jobs, volunteer involvement and skills. Youth can establish a professional image with a well-crafted resume to present to employers.