Summer jobs


A Bummer Summer for Job-Seeking Teens
By Michelle Singletary
Washington Post, 2008-06-05

If your teenager hasn’t secured a summer job,
he or she may find the employment possibilities limited this season.

The market for summer jobs nationwide is going to be dismal, according to a study released by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

The deterioration of national labor market conditions has accelerated the collapse of the teen job market across the country, the center reported in April.

Teen employment rates have been declining sharply since the fall of 2006. The summer 2007 job market for teens was the worst on record in the post-World War II period as the seasonally adjusted employment rate for teens plummeted to 34.5 percent.

The 2008 summer jobs outlook will be even worse than last year, given the three consecutive monthly losses in employment at the national level from January through March 2008 and the continued decline in the teen labor market, the center reported. The center’s predicted summer teen employment rate for this year is 34.2 percent, which is below the historical low experienced last summer and 11 percentage points below the summer employment rate of 2000.

Job losses for teens over the past eight years have been severe for nearly all major demographic, socioeconomic and geographic subgroups. Younger teens (16-17), males, blacks and Hispanics, and those in low-income households are most at-risk of joblessness this summer.

Teens will find it harder to find work because of a number of factors. There’s the economy, of course.


Into the Deep End of the Pool
Lifeguards From Ex-Soviet Bloc Are Swimming in Culture Shock
By Steve Hendrix
Washington Post, 2008-06-21

Andrian Gherbovet, a 20-year-old native of the Republic of Moldova,
has found many things difficult since he arrived in May
to spend the summer as a lifeguard at an Alexandria condominium complex.
Getting a ticket to the consumer economy wasn’t one of them.

“I was surprised to get credit card so quickly,” said Gherbovet,
who received a ready-to-swipe Visa
less than a month after arriving on his first visit to the United States,
before he’d even mastered the local bus routes.
Gherbovet, the son of a taxi driver, had never seen a charge card before.
“I don’t know anyone in Moldova who has one.”

Welcome to America. Will that be debit or credit?


the seasonal influx of international lifeguards
from Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic
is familiar to anyone
who swims in an apartment pool in the Washington region,
this year’s crop includes students
from even more distant European reaches.

The fall of the dollar against the euro
has pushed pool management companies to recruit ever eastward,
including in such non-E.U. countries as
Russia, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan.

And for the students who sign up,
a summer in the American suburbs is a season of surprises.

“The further we go from the West,
the more these students are just wide-eyed when they get here,”
said Steve Lavery, head of High Sierra Pools,
which has contracts to staff lifeguards at more than 350 pools in the area.

In addition to about 500 U.S. lifeguards,
his company brought in 500 foreign workers this year,

housing them in 100 apartments around the region,
providing them with 90 rental cars and more than 1,000 mountain bikes.


Most of the lifeguards are university students
who paid $3,000 to $4,000 in airline tickets and recruitment fees
for a chance to practice their English,
see the country that supplies much of their pop culture
and get a tan that would be hard to achieve in landlocked Moldova.
Gherbovet, who said he was bright red after his first day at the pool,
still doesn’t bother with sun block.
“I do not think it is useful,” he said. “Now I am dark.”

In exchange,

the workers, most of whom are here on J1 student visas,
will spend about four months pool-sitting
for eight or nine hours a day, seven days a week,
with free housing and
wages starting at $7.10 an hour.


Comparing the above article on
lifeguards being imported from Eastern Europe
to work at Washington area swimming pools
with other news articles stating that
there is a dismal employment scene for area youths (e.g.)
makes for a surprising contrast.
In the old days, say the 1960s (when I was a teenager),
this would have been a cause for parents’ activism.
They would have banded together and pressured the apartment complexes
to provide jobs for their teenagers,
in preference to Eastern European teenagers.

Jobless Rate for Youths Is Increasing
Competition Fierce For Low-Skill Summer Positions
By Kari Lydersen
Washington Post, 2008-07-15


Since Eddie Macias graduated from high school in Chicago on June 17, his summer has stretched in front of him.

But he has no job.

Macias, 19, has been looking for work on and off for four years, starting after an aneurysm disabled his father. This spring he looked for jobs at malls and banks on foot and via the Internet but had no luck.

Macias has plenty of company. Young adults seeking low-skill service jobs for the summer must contend with older, laid-off workers, illegal immigrants and college graduates who cannot find work in their fields, as well as with cuts in federal summer jobs programs.

As a result, the national youth jobless rate for June was at its highest in six decades, with 37 percent of teenagers ages 16 to 19 employed, compared with 51 percent in June 2000, according to Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, which analyzed Labor Department data.

“They say they don’t want to hire teenagers -- they think we aren’t as responsible,” Macias said. He wants to work so he can help his mother, who cleans office buildings at night.

The center’s earlier study of 10 major cities showed that the District had the highest youth joblessness rate, 86 percent, followed by Chicago, with 85 percent, and Detroit and New York at 82 percent.

The study did not use the usual definition of “unemployment,” meaning people actively looking for work. Instead, it measured the proportion of youth who are working.

“Not all kids want to work, but when kids can’t find work, they stop looking,” said Andrew Sum, who wrote the study. “The kids who need work the most are getting it the least. There are a large number of kids unemployed and underemployed because there are simply not enough jobs for them.”

The Labor Department’s unemployment statistics are much lower than Sum’s, because it measures only those actively seeking work. Still, the decrease in youth employment over the past decade is reflected. In June 1998, the agency reported 14.9 percent unemployment among those ages 16 to 19, compared with 18.1 percent unemployment among that group in June 2008.

In decades past, teenagers took advantage of general upturns in the labor market. In the 1990s, employers were scrounging for young workers, even importing many from overseas. But since 2000, even when the unemployment rate was low, teenagers did not reap the benefits, according to Sum’s analysis of 60 years’ worth of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“In the 1990s, teens benefited more than the average worker from the employment boom, with one out of every 10 new jobs,” Sum said. “But teenagers did not get one net new job between 2003 and 2007. That’s the first time that has happened in 40 years.”

That is because teenagers are now competing with older adults going back to work, adults working second jobs to make ends meet, illegal immigrants and young adults who cannot find work in line with their college degrees and are taking entry-level retail or manual-labor jobs instead, Sum said.

“The economy has shifted from high-wage manufacturing to low-wage service jobs, so now the kids are competing for those service jobs with adults,” said Jack Wuest, executive director of Chicago’s Alternative Schools Network, which commissioned Sum’s study. “In middle-class communities, kids still may be finding jobs through friends and relatives. But in low-income neighborhoods, there are so few jobs and the ones that do exist are snapped up by adults.”

In addition, the Clinton administration cut the Summer Youth Employment Program in 2000, shifting resources to year-round employment for young workers. As a result, an analysis by the Northeastern researchers found that the government provided money for about 100,000 youths year-round in 2005, as opposed to 600,000 to 800,000 summer jobs that it had been funding every year.

Wuest said the loss of that federal program was particularly bitter for low-income minority youths, because 48 percent of the participants were African American and it was the first job for many of them.

Legislation sponsored by Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) this spring calls for $1 billion in economic stimulus funding for summer jobs for youths. Clyburn and other lawmakers would also like to see a youth summer jobs component included in a second economic stimulus package, said Kristie Greco, his spokeswoman.

The city of Chicago began a summer jobs program in 2000 to compensate for the loss of federal funding. This year, it acted as middleman to connect 18,000 youth with summer jobs at city agencies and through private employers.

“This is a big help for us getting jobs in the future, because we learn skills like work ethics and teamwork,” said Eric Zhao, 19, who works painting murals through the Chicago program.

Lifeguards Stranded With No Pay
U.S. Probing Md. Firm's Work With Foreign Students
By Lori Aratani
Washington Post, 2008-09-19

Hundreds of foreign students who hoped to learn more about American culture working as lifeguards at pools in Maryland and Virginia this summer instead got a harsh lesson in economics when their employer abruptly shut its doors and failed to pay them.

The company, Century Pool Management,
is now under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Serbian Embassy has been inundated with pleas for help from students, many of them so broke they can’t afford bus tickets to get to airports for their flights home.

Kensington-based Century was one of the largest companies of its kind in the region, providing lifeguards to more than 500 community pools in Maryland and Virginia. Like many pool management companies, it recruits a contingent of its summer lifeguards from Eastern Europe, helping fill a need for workers and offering an American experience to hundreds of young people from Serbia and elsewhere.

“I was so happy and proud of myself that I could do this,” said Biljana Stojanovic, a 21-year-old student from Serbia. “But now all my dreams, they are not so happy.”

Stojanovic and others paid fees of up to $2,000 each for visas and to recruiters in their homelands for the opportunity to work in the United States. They expected to make as much as $6,000 over the summer from Century -- six times what some lifeguards said they would make at home -- but are now struggling with living expenses and with how to recoup their back pay.

Company representatives did not return phone or e-mail messages this week seeking comment. A hastily scribbled note taped to the door of Century’s offices read: “Century Pools closed until further notice”; a phone number for the Maryland unemployment office also was posted. The company changed hands sometime in 2006 or early 2007, former employees said, and its Web site lists Don Vetal as chief executive; a person who answered a phone listed in that name said he was Vetal’s father and did not know where his son could be reached.

A Labor Department spokeswoman would not provide details of the investigation.

Dejan Radulovic, head of consular affairs at the Serbian Embassy in Washington, said at least 81 students have contacted his office seeking help. Most are unfamiliar with the U.S. system and unsure of what to do, he said. Others are just scared.

“It’s really, really bad for them,” he said. “We hope this matter will be solved.”

Radulovic said there is little he can do because these are private employment agreements, but he is hoping for a resolution. According to Century’s Web site, about 20 percent of its workers come from outside the United States.

“I am so angry,” said Nebojsa Radojevic, who wanted to perfect his English and, after a summer of lifeguarding at a pool in Northern Virginia, see New York City. Instead, the 22-year-old is sitting in an unfurnished apartment in Falls Church trying to figure out how to recover the $600 that Century Pool owes him. “I just don’t know what to do.”

Zeljko Kvesic spent two summers working for Century in 2005 and 2006, before it changed ownership. He loved the experience so much, he encouraged friends in Serbia to do the same. Now, he said, he feels terrible.

“I worked for Century when everything was normal,” he said. “It was a really cool job, so that’s why [I] started recruiting for them. I wanted to give others the opportunity to have an experience like mine -- to learn about American culture and American life.”

But now those he recruited “don’t even have enough money to buy a bus ticket to the airport,” he said. “It’s horrible.”

It didn’t begin that way. Students who shared accounts of their summer in phone interviews and by e-mail said they had some issues with housing but were generally happy with their jobs.

Stojanovic, who worked in Century’s Kensington office, said she liked the work so much that she asked for more hours. Century officials seemed to like her, too, she said, promising her a $200 bonus at the end of the summer.

And then the paychecks stopped coming.

“My paycheck was late for two weeks and nobody knew what happened,” Radojevic said. “I called the office and I was talking with a girl from my country. She told me that managers told her that they don’t have money.”

Instead of traveling to New York and Niagara Falls, Stojanovic said she is staying with a friend in Harrisonburg, Va., while she tries to recoup more than $1,800 she said Century owes her. She is scheduled to fly home Sept. 27, but doesn’t have the money to get to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Milan Pejcic, 26, who has worked for Century every summer since 2004, said this year he was promoted to area manager, in charge of supervising lifeguards and maintaining a network of pools.

“They pushed all summer long for us to work like crazy and they promised us that they will pay us,” he said. But the last two paychecks never arrived. He said those who did get checks tried to cash them and found that they were worthless.

“We did good jobs,” said Pejcic’s friend Alksandar Milojkovic, 26, “and we expect someone to pay us for that.”


A John Kelly column on Ocean City
by John Kelly
Washington Post, 2009-08-19

[An excerpt.]

Ocean City is full of Eastern European students
hired to work for the summer.

They use the library, too,
finding in their library cards a tiny measure of American affirmation.

“They’re very humble,” Ruth said of these Russians, Czechs and Latvians.
“They’ll go to the children’s department and get a history book.
They really want to know our culture.”

[Does that mean that all American teenagers who wanted jobs got them?]


Foreign students enjoy new summer job protections —
but what about Americans?

By Pamela Constable
Washington Post, 2012-05-23