Wisconsin News

Unemployment among teens more than triple national rate

LA CROSSE, Wis. - Even with a rebounding economy, teens are having a tough time finding jobs.

With school out, summer is the prime time for teens to find a job.

However, new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the unemployment rate among teens is more than three times the national unemployment rate.

"We usually beef up in June, July and August," said Gary Rudy, owner of Rudy's Drive-In in La Crosse.

Rudy said about half of the employees working here are teens and college students.


It just works well with summer scheduling.

The same goes for employees at Pettibone Resort's banquet hall.

"They do have plenty to offer," said Chris Schaller, general manager at Pettibone Resort. "It's just a matter of interviewing properly."

But the teens working at either location are really the lucky few who have been able to find jobs.

"At best we maybe only hire  10 or 15 people per season," said Rudy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said about 24.5 percent of teens looking for jobs can't find one.

The national unemployment rate is 7.6 percent.

But Rudy and Schaller said it's not so much teens trying to compete with older seasoned workers for job openings.

The people they hire just keep coming back.

"We don't get a lot of applications," said Schaller. "We tend to keep a lot of our people. We don't have a high turnover rate."

And if they have to hire people, they have a selected pool to choose from.

"I think it is tough competition because most of the people who work here refer a friend or somebody they'd like to work with so we are very, very lucky that we don't have to advertise much for employees," said Rudy.

Both Rudy and Schaller said while there are some job openings during the summer, a good chunk of the hiring happens before the summer even starts.

The Bureau of Labor statistics also reports only about a third of teens ages 16 to 19 are looking for work today. It was about half in the 1990s.

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