Unemployment up among younger workers

Newly-released numbers show staggering unemployment among teenagers.

It appears they’re being forced out by older workers.

But, we found one place that prides itself on its younger workers.

When she’s not stocking shelves and helping customers at Ben Franklin Crafts in Moline, Elisabeth Gonzalez, 20, is a student at Black Hawk College.

“I’m actually studying music education, so I don’t plan on working in retail for the rest of my life,” said Gonzalez.

Her flexible class schedule allows her to be on-call for the most part.

“Whenever they need me to work during the week, I’ll work that time if I can,” she said.

It’s an asset that doesn’t go unnoticed by Office Manager, Lori Graham.

“We find it a great benefit to employ teenagers,” said Graham.

In addition to the ability to work nights and weekend, shifts that their older counterparts may not want, there’s another reason Graham says it’s good to keep younger workers employed.

“They start with us as their first job and then they stay with us through college, some of them even into adulthood,” she said.

But, jobs are hard to come by for 16-24 year-olds.

According to the latest Iowa Kids Count report released this week, in Scott County, unemployment has gone up more than 146% in the last 10 years for teens and young adults.

But, a recent Annie E. Casey Foundation study found Iowa to be in much better shape than other states, with 43% employment rate, compared to Florida’s 18% among 16-19 year-olds.

Still, Gonzalez feels lucky to be working at the same job she started right out of high school.

“A lot of my friends are like, ‘Hey, do you know of any jobs that are opening?’ and it’s kind of depressing to see that people can’t find jobs.”

Iowa fares much better compared to Illinois.

The Casey Foundation report found Illinois’ employment rate among 16-19 year-olds to be 28% compared to Iowa’s 43%.

Among 20-24 year-olds, it was 60% for Illinois, compared to 71% for Iowa.

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