Summer job market is tough for teens

Report cards are out. Time cards are in.

But the job market is a bear this year for teenagers looking for work during their summer vacation.

Eateries, clothing stores and other businesses that typically hire teens in entry-level positions have been hammered by the recession and are cutting staff. Nearly 10 percent of Americans, and more than 11 percent of Californians, are unemployed. Adults with college degrees are now working in minimum-wage jobs traditionally held by teenagers.

"I'd like to get a restaurant or retail job, but it's almost impossible," said Brandon Burson, who is 16 and a senior at El Camino Fundamental High School in Sacramento. "For every one job that opens up, there are hundreds of applications."

Figures released Monday by the nonprofit Employment Policies Institute are sobering. The group puts the teen unemployment rate at 24 percent, its highest rate in 17 years.

The shaky economy, combined with a rising federal minimum wage, has squeezed many teenagers out of the job market this summer, said Kristen Lopez Eastlick, senior research analyst for the group.

The federally mandated minimum wage is set to increase to $7.25 per hour on July 24. California's minimum wage is even higher, $8 an hour.

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