Periods of high unemployment tend to be particularly hard on teenagers, who wind up competing for jobs with more experienced, laid-off adults.
When Faith Borden, 16, of Metuchen, N.J., applied for a job in March to be a counselor at a summer day camp, she looked around and saw “all these 30- and 40-year-olds,” she said. “Usually it’s just teenagers.”
She also applied at pizza restaurants, drugstores and most of the stores at her local mall, and even attended a job fair in Edison, N.J., but didn’t receive one offer. So she decided to work for herself, selling Avon products.
Also facing a competitive job market, Max O’Dell, 14, of Cary, N.C., started Smiley Inc., a custom T-shirt design business. He paints shirts in his driveway and hangs them in the garage to dry; revenue so far has been $170.
“Business is very steady, and I would much rather work for myself than at a fast-food place or something like that,” he said. “It feels really good to be my own boss.”
Unemployment for 16- to 19-year-olds is at its highest rate since 1992 – at 22.7 percent in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is causing some teenagers to rethink their notion of work and to embrace entrepreneurship.
Laura Durst, 18, a recent high school graduate in Woodstock, Conn., in the state’s northeast corner, said that there were so few jobs for teenagers there that two years ago she began setting up a Web-based business, WorkInMyRoom.com. It provides teenagers with information and online resources to find jobs that can be done from home.
Durst’s revenue comes from advertising. She uses Google Ad Sense – which displays relevant Google ads on her site – and earns money when users click on them. She says she is making about $250 a month.
Teenagers start a wide range of businesses, from selling art, jewelry or collectibles online to Web site creation and design.
They also do non-Web-based things like yard work, house cleaning, dog walking, pool care, tutoring and party planning.
Photo by WorkInMyRoom.com.