Study ranks Tennessee as one of toughest states for teens to find work

Monday, December 3, 2012 at 7:35pm

Tennessee is one of the 10 toughest states in the nation for teens to find work, according to a study released Monday.

Fewer than one in four Tennesseans aged 16 to 19 held jobs in the last year, according to the Youth and Kids policy report by the Kids Count project tracking children’s issues.

“Since the recession, we’ve definitely seen more competition for jobs,” said Jeff Hentschel, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Labor.

That’s in part because people displaced and laid off from previous jobs are accepting more starter-level positions to make ends meet, Hentschel said.

Nationally, 26 percent of teens were employed in 2011, according to the study, while 23 percent worked jobs in Tennessee.

All but two of the states surrounding the Volunteer State have higher teenager employment rates. In Georgia, 19 percent of teens found jobs, as did 20 percent in North Carolina.

The highest teen employment rate of Tennessee’s neighbors is Arkansas where one in three found jobs last year.

Young 20-somethings had better luck than teens did, according to the report. Three of five Tennesseans aged 20 to 24 managed to find employment that year, which is on par with the national average.

Nationwide, the low number of young adults finding work is reminiscent of 50 years ago, according to Kids Count.

“There are fewer jobs today, and employers are demanding higher skills in a labor market transformed by globalization and technology,” the report stated.

“Also, fewer than half of our high school students graduate on time and are ready for college. Young people with limited education and job-readiness skills find fewer employment opportunities. This is especially true of those from low-income families and living in high-poverty communities,” according to the report, which is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

This summer, Gov. Bill Haslam met with business owners and college officials across the state to talk about how ready Tennessee students are to enter the workforce. Business owners largely told the governor they have jobs that need to be filled, but students are lacking the proper technical and communications skills needed to qualify for those jobs.

"Education is the key first step," Haslam told reporters in Franklin Monday, adding he had yet to read the report.

He said the state needs to get better at preparing youth for the job market.

"Part of that, I think is helping define reality for that middle school student to say if you don't pass ninth grade algebra, here's what the future looks like."

4 Comments on this post:

By: slzy on 12/3/12 at 10:43

well yeah,since the illegals have the only jobs they would qualify for.

By: WickedTribe on 12/3/12 at 11:13

And if they're as educated as the person who wrote "state's" instead of "states" in the title of this article, I can understand why it's so hard for them to find jobs.

By: sonny1024 on 12/4/12 at 8:28

Hell anyplace they go to apply for a job the ILLEGALS have already took them I went to McDonald's and every worker in there was Spanish-speaking except two I left. So the young kids can't find a job which is bad enough then the police goes messing with them WHY because they are on the streets and not working.YEA tn is hard on the young people. Answer Find our own people jobs FIRST.

By: JeffF on 12/4/12 at 11:01

Luckily Nashville has invested almost a billion dollars in a facility that will be filled almost entirely with the part-time, low wage, zero benefit jobs teens demand. Apply now for sporadic work as a banquet server or hotel maid.

Nashville knows that to build a better community you do not invest in getting people high paying jobs, you invest in the poverty wage opportunities. Just another way Nashville lets its 12 most important industry drive the boat.