More Georgia teenagers are unemployed - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

More Georgia teenagers are unemployed

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Unemployment numbers in Georgia continue to worsen and now even teenagers are feeling the impact. The state unemployment rate is inching towards 10-percent.

A growing number of those out-of-work Georgians are teenagers who used to be able to rely on summer jobs to bring some extra income into their households. The state is now third in the country for teen unemployment. 

May's rate stood at 32 percent. The latest numbers show the national teen unemployment rate stands at 24-percent.  That's 2.5 times the overall national unemployment rate according to new employment data.

Some Albany employers say the economy and rising minimum wage rates are to blame.

In Albany, a constant supplier of jobs for high school and college students is the All American Fun Park but with changing times those jobs will be reduced.

In the midst of all the fun at the All American Fun Park, 16-year-old Lyndsay Tucker is hard at work. "It's my first job," said Tucker.

She's been gainfully employed for about a month now. "I work the snack bar. I take people's orders and I cook their food and keep up with the register," said Tucker.

The motivation behind finding this employment was simple. "Gas money," said Tucker, "I had to pay for the car."

Tucker and the majority of her co-workers are vital to day to day operations at the park. "Very important. I'd say at least 95-percent of our workforce here is teenage employment," said Manager George Humes.

These days that employment is hard to come by and in great demand. People consistently call or come in seeking a job. "Everyday," said Humes, "we have 5 to 10 applications a day coming in."

Humes wishes he could hire them all but that's just not possible in this economy. "We're having to cut back and now with the minimum wage increase, we're having to be even more careful with our costs," said Humes.

Minimum wage will rise to $7.25 an hour July 24th. That means there will be an even greater demand for fewer jobs at the park. They'll most likely have to cut back even more next year. "Less is more is what I always hear so we have to do more with less people," said Humes.

It's another sign of the times. "Yes. Yes it is unfortunately," said Humes.

With many of her friends still searching for work, this first job is even more appreciated by Lyndsay Tucker. "I feel lucky. I feel bad that they don't have a job but at least I was one of the lucky ones that got one," said Tucker.

Economically, places like the fun park will have to do more with less because they'll be dishing out more money for employees. 3 years ago when minimum wage was $5.15 an hour, an employee working 40 hours would get $206 before taxes. At $7.25 an hour, that goes up to nearly $300. 

Things may change as the economy gets better but many adults and teens will go without jobs in the meantime.  The latest data shows the highest teen unemployment rate is for African-Americans at 37.9 percent.

The Fun Park says more adults are also applying and competing for more of those traditionally seasonal summer positions for teens.

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