TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The summertime blues have arrived for thousands of Michigan teenagers, who face a tough job market this year despite some improvement from a year ago.
Those hit by the continuing hard times include Michael Green, 18, a recent graduate of Traverse City Central High School.
Green said he was hard at work looking for a job well before graduation.
"Mostly it's, 'Thanks but no thanks. We've got all the positions filled right now,'" he said.
The unemployment rate forecast for Michigan teens this summer is 30.6 percent, a 4.4 percentage point drop from 2010. According to Jeff Aula of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, much of the improvement is because fewer teens are trying to get jobs this summer.
"It's a very competitive labor market situation for teens," Aula, an economic analyst, told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. "Starting around May, large numbers of teens enter the labor market all at once, and there's a finite number of jobs for them."
The state's teen jobless rate stood at 25.3 percent in summer 2008, the state agency said. That year, 308,700 teens were classified as in the labor force — either working or looking for work.
In summer 2009, the jobless rate hit 31.8 percent of a smaller labor force of 292,400. The jobless rate hit 35 percent of a labor force of 287,200 in 2010. The state estimates that the teen work force this summer will fall to 274,100, and 190,200 teens will find work.
"We had about 50 applicants; we hired four," said Nancy Plummer, owner of Moomers Homemade Ice Cream in Grand Traverse County's Long Lake Township, where teenagers make up most of the shop's staff. "Of those 50, some were seniors in high school and because our business is seasonal, we pretty much eliminated them. ... We need kids who can work in the fall."
Alex Hogarth, 16, was among those who unsuccessfully sought work at Moomers. The Traverse City West Senior High School student said he was too late to apply for the ice cream job and also found no work at Finish Line, a mall shoe store. Hogarth said he was waiting to hear about a lifeguard position at Great Wolf Lodge.
"I have football during the week. If I didn't have anything, it'd probably be easier," Hogarth said as he left a downtown Traverse City beach. "Most of my friends are having a hard time finding jobs."