Officials warn that statistics are misleading, even as teen unemployment rates climb above the 20 percent plateau. According to The Daily Iowan, unemployment for teens in the country hit 20.7 percent. This is more than three times the unemployment for the country, which stands at 6.6 percent.
In the state of Iowa, the unemployment rate for teens comes in at 11 percent, which is more than twice the unemployment rate for the state.
David Frisvold is an economics assistant professors at UI. Frisvold said that there are multiple factors that come into play when discussing unemployment of teens and they differ from adult unemployment. Some of those factors include students focusing on their academics and more financial aid available today.
“On the supply side, it’s the extent which you are willing to supply your labor into the market, like the idea that teens are ‘too lazy’ to work,” Frisvold said. “And the demand side is focused more on the number of employers willing to hire teens.”
UI junior Jassi Singh noted that her persistence paid off in obtaining a job that she might not have been completely qualified for. Singh works as a lab assistant at the Bowen Science Building on the campus.
“At first, they were going to hire someone else because I didn’t have any lab or work experience since high school,” Singh said. “But I kept bugging the lab researcher and reaching out to her saying how I was a hard worker, and she finally gave me the job.”
Singh said that she found the job listing for the lab assistant on the Jobnet website for the school. The website advertises jobs available on the campus and those off the campus if they are within 30 miles of the school.
The director of student employment in the Financial Aid Office, Cynthia Seyfer, said, “My issue is always if a student wants to find a job, even if it’s their first time, I think they should be able to as long as they’re being somewhat flexible in what they’re willing to do and receive in pay, and they’re persistent.”
Singh said that motivated teens will have no trouble finding employment. Singh did say that there is concern for the number of teens who are unemployed right now and have never held a job.
“I think a lot of students think they can be the exception, but in reality it’s going to be a lot harder for them to get a job after college,” Singh said. “Working while you’re in school builds skills you won’t learn anywhere else. It’s helped me become more responsible and learn how to prioritize my time.”
Frisvold said that additional research should be done nationally to determine concrete reasons why the unemployment rate for teens is so high.
“If it’s the case that these are individuals who are looking for a job in their teen years and are not finding work for long periods of time and then it has a permanent effect on their career trajectories, then we should be concerned,” Frisvold said. “But if they aren’t working for short periods of time but complete more schooling, then we shouldn’t be as concerned.”Teen Employment in Iowa Cloudy by Jim Vassallo