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Mississippi Youth Have the Hardest Time Finding a Job

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 21 May 2014 10:40pm | comments

More Mississippian's are back in the workforce according to a report released this week by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. However, as MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports the outlook for teen employment in the state continues to look bleak.

Even though Mississippi's employment rate is at a five year high, teens in the capitol city may have a difficult time finding a job this summer. A recent report by The Brooking's Institute says teen employment  in Mississippi's capitol city has steadily fallen since 2002. Martha Ross, a fellow with the Institutes, Metropolitan Policy Program says the study shows that young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are disproportionately affected by a weak economy.

"They have less experience, they have smaller networks. If they're teens practically by definition they have lower levels of education. So they suffer from the last in first out phenomenon. And if they're competing against more experienced  older workers, they're not going to be as attractive a candidate."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Mississippi's 32.3 percent teenage unemployment rate is the highest in the U.S. Over the past several years the city of Jackson has made concerted efforts to reverse the declines by offering summer jobs programs. Ross says in addition to summer jobs another important element might also include year round jobs or internships.

" Summertime is three months out of the year. A lot of young people do blend work and school. I mean for highs school students the priority is school full stop. But you can learn a lot from a part time job that can set you up for  success later on."

Ron Aldridge is the state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses. He says entrepreneurship is also a fast growing alternative for young people looking to get into the work force.

"With a tablet or a smart phone today they have the ability to have access to customers all over the world. If they have created an app they have created a business."

A number of efforts are in place to help stem the state's high teen unemployment rate. One approach being taken by Mississippi Jobs Corps is to train teens for more successful careers that don't require a four year education. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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