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Job Market: Teens Step In To Fill Employment Spots

Kids these days, right? Lazy, ungrateful, good-for-nothing so-and-sos … right?

Maybe not, as U.S. employers are discovering the population willing to step in and take the jobs others are unwilling to do is a bit younger than they are used to.

Analysts suggest part of the reason for the speed of the economic recovery in much of the country comes from teenagers being willing to fill jobs in restaurants, retail, entertainment and other fields when older folks will not. These kids are often making $15 to $17 an hour and getting bonuses or help paying for classes, because they have very little competition for the posts.

“We’re very thankful they are here,” says Akash Kapoor, CEO of Curry Up Now. “We may not be open if they weren’t here. We need bodies.”

Kapoor’s restaurants employ 50 teenagers. In fact, according to Labor Department statistics, in May 33.2 percent of those aged 16-19 had jobs — the highest percentage in 13 years. Teen employment fell sharply during the Great Recession, as the available jobs were taken up by older folks, who this time around seem to be holding out for something “better.” At the same time the great wave of Baby Boomer retirements is swelling, which means the oldest segment of the working population is simply leaving the job market.

It is good news for those willing to do the work that is available, and young people are certainly answering that call. Here’s hoping they carry that work ethic with them as they — and our economy — grow.

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