Paying for College

Summer Jobs: Few or Far Between?

The news media are completely confusing sometimes. Here are two headlines I just saw online:

- Summer jobs sparse for teens this year

- Students can expect more summer jobs this year

Huh? What's a high schooler (or college student) suppose to think?

As for the first headline, here's the thrust of that story:

'If they don't have a job by now, they're kind of out of luck': Summer jobs sparse for teens this year

Here's the second one's thesis:

With summer swiftly approaching, students in Washington County are expected to have more opportunities this summer to find temporary jobs as the labor market continues its recovery.

What's the real scoop here? Are summer jobs available or are things bleak? Let's take a look at some info from these two news stories.

The bad news article states:

This summer might be another bummer for high school and college students looking for seasonal employment.

Already local park districts that traditionally hire teens and college students during the summer months have completed their hiring. Collinsville Area Recreation District spokeswoman Elizabeth Davis said hiring began at beginning of the year and wrapped up earlier this spring.

"We're done hiring," Davis said. "A lot of our hiring started in January." . . .

. . . In Illinois, teen unemployment has been on the rise over recent summers. Figures from the Illinois Department of Employment Security in Chicago reveal that the teen jobless rate was 16.7 percent in 2007. Last summer, teen unemployment across the state climbed to 27.5 percent.

"It's been building in every age group," said department spokesman Greg Rivara. "The unemployment rates are unacceptably high everywhere."

"Given the trends, the difficult part of this is we've never been here before," Rivara said. "We have had economic downturns and had severe recession, but never had a recession that has been this deep or this long. And the conventional wisdom that had been used previously is challenged when we look forward."

Hutchison said the O'Fallon park district has witnessed about 90 fewer applicants than a year ago, when about 350 applied for work. There are only a very small number of jobs that are still open for this summer.

Now, contrast that with the good news article:

. . . While the students should have more opportunities to find jobs this summer when compared to last year, Langston said the level of competition in Washington County's labor market remains high amid widespread unemployment.“There may be some competition from people with more experience," she said as many unemployed residents continue to search for jobs. “They've got a lot to choose from. You've got to make yourself stand out as a good, hard worker."

Kent Perkins, leisure services director for the City of St. George, said his department has positions available for lifeguards and clerical workers.

“We usually hire quite a few lifeguards," he said, with staff needed for the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center and the city's outdoor public pool.

Perkins said he encourages high school and college students looking for work to consider becoming certified as lifeguards.

Granted, the good news article reflects a local/regional view and may not echo conditions in other areas of the country. However, another good news article is encouraging:

Summer jobs forecast is sunny

Summer job-hunters will find this news promising. Fifty-five percent of all hiring managers surveyed will be adding workers, and the average wage will be $11 per hour, says Shawn Bower, creator of “It's not too late to start looking, but don't wait any longer than – right now," Bower says.

To find work, he recommends calling on the usual contacts: parents, friends, former employers and searching online with

When job-seekers enter a Zip Code, the site displays job availabilities by company, city and distance.

“We've been doing this for over 10 years, so we've gotten pretty good at it."High school and college-age job-hunters should “at least apply to some of the industries that specifically hire students. That includes hospitality and restaurants, retail, amusement parks," Bower says . . .

So, job-seeking students should decide which mindset to adopt. Personally, I prefer the sunny side of the street. The lesson here seems to be: Don't believe everything you read. In fact, with today's technical wizardry at work, it's probably better not to believe everything you read or see.

Good luck with that job search. Let us know how it goes.


Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.