High school and college students, especially those 16 and older, should have no problem finding summer jobs this year, according to employers and job experts.
"There're always jobs to be found in what we consider entry-level positions, such as restaurants and retailers, especially in the summer," said Dennis Evans, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Students will compete with a larger number of workers seeking employment - the jobless rate in Lucas County climbed last month to more than 6 percent and is 5.5 percent in Ohio - but that should not prove too difficult, Mr. Evans said.
Three teens who work this summer at Lickity Split on Glendale Avenue in south Toledo are happy.
Heidi Driver, 19, goes to college in Canton but has returned for her sixth season at Lickity Split. "It's fun and a good job," said the student at Malone College.
Toledo Christian School student Matthew Curcio, 16, is in his third year dishing out ice cream and said he's the envy of his friends, who work mowing lawns or at area markets.
"Most of them find it pretty easy to find a job, but it's not so easy to get an enjoyable job. I like getting food when you're working and it's good pay."
Owner Marcia Helman said she often hires teens as young as 15 and many return each season until they graduate from college. She starts them at $4.25 an hour, a wage that increases with exper-ience. Hiring teens "doesn't work for everyone, but it has worked fine for me. This is often their first job."
That was the case last summer for Ashley Speelman, a 16-year-old Bowsher High School student, who didn't consider looking for another job because "I love it too much. It's really fun."
As for her wages, Ashley said, "I've saved it all for a car."
Junior Achievement Worldwide found 36 percent of the teens it polled recently planned to work this summer to get money for college. Earning "extra spending money" formerly was the No. 1 answer.
Thirty percent of the teens surveyed said they expect to make more than $7.50 an hour in their summer jobs, slightly higher than last year's expectations. The top two types of expected jobs are in retail and restaurants, but also popular are babysitting/daycare, office/clerical, lifeguard/recreation, and lawn care/landscaping.
Ron Schneider, owner of Schneider Landscaping-Garden Center in Toledo, said he has long hired high-school and college students, requiring them to work part-time in April and May while in school and then working full-time in the summer.
"This helps me get young quality kids and quality people, and in the long run I'm getting people generally who might stay three to five years."
John Challenger, president of an outplacement firm in Chicago, said that although more than 1.6 million students are expected to be employed this summer, he's surprised that more teens don't see the advantage of getting summer jobs.
"A lot of teens can just try out careers this year and a lot of companies recognize, especially if the teens are in college, that bringing them on over the summer is a recruiting tool," he said.
Parents recognize the value of such a job.
Kimberly Woodard said she is hopeful that her 14-year-old son, Ricki, can find something this season before he starts school in the fall at Rogers High School.
"When I was his age, we worked for the city, cleaning up the parks or cutting a little grass, or even just picking up papers," she said. "It's not a lot of money but it gave us something do."
She added: I'd rather have that than playing video games or text messaging on my home phone."
Contact Mary-Beth McLaughlin at