Teen employment might rise this year

Tiffany Beisel didn't like unemployment much. When the Wichita Maize High junior got hired at Spangles after 16 months between jobs, she celebrated.

"I was pretty excited," she said. "I hadn't worked for a whole year."

Last year was a terrible one for teenagers to look for work — only slightly better than 2008, the worst year in five decades.

But a new outlook by national outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas predicts that 2010 will be slightly better.

It can't get a whole lot worse.

There are no unemployment numbers for teenagers in Wichita or Kansas. But the national unemployment rate for teenagers in March was 26.1 percent. For black teens, it was 41.1 percent.

Teens may work cheaply, but they face challenges when times get hard and competition with adults gets tight: They can't work during school hours and often have little experience and few skills.

Wes Hostetler, store manager for the Johnson's Garden Center near 21st and Woodlawn, typically hires teenagers to work part-time shifts at the counter during the busy spring season.

This year, he hired two adults instead.

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