Real Stories of Teen Joblessness

This summer's low youth unemployment rate disguises a disturbing trend: Just one in three teens either has a job or is looking for one. Nearly 11 million young adults have dropped out of the workforce or never entered it. Higher minimum wages at the state and local level are one factor eliminating workplace opportunities for job seekers with less experience. Below are stories from dozens of teenagers throughout the country describing their own difficult experiences obtaining a job this summer.

Read more about saving entry-level jobs for teens.

Stories may have been copy edited for clarity and grammar.

“I am a high school student I really need a summer job because I want to save money for college.”

“I need a summer job to make some money so I can have money to buy school supplies and clothes for next year.”

“I have more of a problem with finding a job that would help me understand more of the working field I want to take up in the future than finding a job period. I would love to work in sales or marketing because I want to become an entrepreneur.”

“I’ve always wanted a job since I was 15 but I could never get one because no one would ever call me back or I wasn’t what their looking for. Now I’m 16 and I still can’t get one its the same thing like a year ago. Its like no one wants to hire me. I’m about to be 17 with no job I want to change that.”

“I’ve applied for three summer jobs but none of them emailed me back.”

“It’s been kind of hard to find a job especially when you have no experience in my area. I’ve been looking for a while but still haven’t been able to get a job.”

“Can’t find a job, because they want to hire for longer than just summer and I am willing to stay at their company, but also don’t have the right position for me because I don’t have a certain degree or 18.”

“There are no jobs for 16 year olds here…..I can only find jobs for 17 and up.”

“It’s hard to find a summer job due to one reason. I’m not experienced enough. It’s ironic because how can I get experience if no one wants to hire me? I wish to land a job because I want to further my discipline and also make some extra cash on the side.”

“I’m trying really hard to find a job but as soon as I find one I like the job opening gets taken before my application is reviewed and I have applied for several more.”

“I have been looking for a job in the Bay Area and I have been applying to websites to find a job but I can’t find a job. But the thing is I haven’t find any jobs since I came out in school until now.”

“I can not find a job. I applied to [fast food restaurants] and theatres and none of them have returned my calls or have said that they’ve found another person for that position.”

“I am a 17 and a half year old with a high school diploma and no one seems to want to hire a 17 year old with high school diploma.”

“It’s seems as though it’s become very limited and the jobs that are available are being filled. I’m a teen looking for a job and it’s especially harder with no previous work experience but I really want to find a summer job!”

“I have applied for many long term positions along with summer jobs and have received very few call backs. Call backs often resulted in the position being filled or a requirement for 18 or older.”

“Due to my age many people have been against hiring me believing that my age makes me immature and I have had very little luck getting a job.”

“I’ve been applying for jobs since the beginning of the year. I would get a few call backs but then once I got an interview it was always that they were only hiring 1 or 2 people out of everyone they have interviewed. Some jobs would even tell me that they would call back at a later date because they would need to add positions for spring and summer break. None of the jobs would ever call me back.”

“I’ve been wanting to apply for jobs but it is hard most of them are from 18 years or older and the ones that are available for teenagers are mostly taken. I applied many jobs recently and I have not received a call and I feel like I won’t. Being able to find a job is very difficult.”

“I can’t find a job because everywhere I go they ask for experience, but how can I get experience if no one is willing to hire me to gain experience.”

“I’ve applied to literally ten plus jobs, and they don’t get back to me at all, and some even they say I need to be eighteen. That’s sort of unfair in my opinion, I’m just asking for a chance.”

“I’m a recent high school grad and I’ve been searching for a job for months now. I’ve applied online and in store to many places but I just can’t seem to find one.”

“I have been trying to apply since school has gotten out for a good job that I can work part time after school and on Saturdays! I am a very hard and determined worker, as well as a fast learner! Once I get this first job I know I will be great!”

“When I turned 16, I started looking for jobs. As many interviews and job application I put out, a lot of people didn’t want to hire me because I didn’t have references or someone else fitted the job. It’s been hard but each day I try harder and harder.”

“It’s hard for me to actually find a job where people take me seriously. And it’s sad that it’s my reality. There are good teens to hire who actually NEED a job. Who WANT it. Who deserve it. And we will do a lot to prove we deserve it. It’s not fair that we don’t get treated the same from other people. We have our own battles we’re dealing with, if we’re asking for a job it should be something policy makers should recognize more and take into consideration. We deserve to have a chance.. we’re holding our hands out, begging for someone to finally hear our voices.”

“I have been trying to find a job since I got out of school and I haven’t found any open spots for me.”

“I am 17 years old. I will be 18 in September. If I don’t find a job, I will not have any clothes that fit me for this upcoming school year. I’ve applied to at least 3 jobs everyday for the last month! I love to have my own responsibilities but it’s gotten really hard to find a job.”

“I’ve been looking for a summer job since April and I can’t seem to be able to get one because I don’t have work experience.”

“I’m 17 years old and I have been looking for a part-time job for a year and a half now. But nobody even considered hiring me this time. I’m still looking but it’s not looking good.”

“I have been trying to find a job since the middle of the school year and no job has hired me yet. I’m 17, and I am an independent teen who wants to be able to earn my own money and feel good about it. I want to be able to do things without asking my parents to show responsibility.”

“It’s hard for me to find a job, decent paid job that hires 16 and older with no work experience.”

“I’ve been looking for jobs ever since I was 16 years old. Every place I would find would need a person to work at with their help wanted signs or anything related to that. It seems that whenever I apply to work, they never respond back. I’d wait for a few weeks, but nothing at all.”

“For over 4 months now I have been looking for a job to keep me moving I am willing to work, but every time I say that to someone they won’t take me and they never give workers the opportunity to work with the staff and even when I send a resume they don’t reply.”

“I’m 16 going onto 17 and I’m still looking for a job. It’s hard to do a really good resume that convinces employers that I can sustain a job because I haven’t had one before.”

“I’m 17 and been trying to find a job for 2 years now. I’ve been looking faithfully and my email is full of job offers that would not take me anyway with no experience.”

“I have applied everywhere for a job. I am 17 years old and a high school graduate. I am going to college in the fall and just need a job so I can have done savings for college. Is it that I don’t have work experience at all?”

“I need a job for the summer to stay busy after summer school. And from there get experience to work somewhere or else remain at the summer job.”

“I’ve only had temporary jobs because no other job has wanted me to work part time or full time. I also graduated from high school not too long ago but that doesn’t help the situation. Maybe my age I’m only 17 still. I honestly don’t know.”

“When I was 15 I was waiting to turn 16 so I can start applying for jobs but nowhere wants to hire. I feels like that is because I’m young no diploma yet and no work experience.”

“I have been applying to jobs all summer but I have been getting denied.”

“I want a job any is fine I don’t want it just for the money but as experience and to learn independence but at 16 there are jobs offered, but not many and most hire at 18 or prefer someone of that age.”

“I wanna find a job that will hire me but everywhere apply they are not hiring no more or they don’t want to take me because I am 17.”

“Basically the world is hiring. I apply and I don’t get hired. I’m a first time job seeker willing to show up and do my job correctly.”

“I’ve looked for jobs for months & weeks filling out job applications & calling up to those jobs & I never get a callback & I am tired of it & I really want to work!”

“I put in an application and I had an interview but they never called me back. So I called them and they said they’re not hiring teens.”

“I am high school student who needs a part time job but it’s hard to find one with no work experience “

“I can’t find a summer job or any job. I applied for a one summer Chicago program that gives jobs to teens, but unfortunately I had no success there in being chosen for any of the 3 programs I selected. I’ve tried to apply for other jobs in [retail stores] or [fast food restaurants] but I have never had a job, so I have no experience to provide and better my chances at being hired.”

“I’ve been looking for a job since the beginning of the year every where I apply to there always like ‘you need experience, you need a car or sorry we are just hiring man’ which I think it’s crazy because I know that I am a strong young woman and I am always willing to try things out my comfort zone but now in days society wants us to fit a certain range in order to even get a job, but that’s why I haven’t got a job but I am still looking.”

“It’s hard to find a job in Chicago, nobody wants to hire you because your to young or you don’t have experience in that job you trying to do.”

“I am unable to find another job suitable to my education, I’m interested in customer service for [fast food restaurants] but I can’t find any job that will accept me.”

“I can’t find a summer job because I’ve never had one before not many people wanna hire a 17 year old teen who hasn’t had a job yet.”

“Whenever I go job searching I would see a whole bunch of grown men also trying to get the same job as me and since I’m 17 with only some experience it’s hard for me to acquire any of these jobs.”

“I’ve been searching for a stable job and I couldn’t find any at all and I’m hoping something may come along.”

“I’ve been looking for a part time job so that I can help my parents pay for my college but no jobs call me back or say that I need to have experience or be 18.”

“I applied for the summer youth employment program and I wasn’t chosen. I have applied to a bunch of jobs and haven’t heard from any of them. I just want a job because I want to gain some experience and make my own money.”

“I need a summer job because I want to buy a good computer to start my editing career”

“I’m 17 I’ve been trying to find a job and it’s been hard. I live in the Bronx I even tried going to Long Island and looking there but because [of] my age and the hours I can’t work. In some places it’s full or they say they will call me in a couple days”

“I’ve been searching for a summer job literally all summer. I’ve applied to 10+ jobs with no luck. Each interview I happened to go to so far has been emails in response with denies, or they don’t have space for me. I’m running out of time and I would love to get a job to show my family I can keep up with the business world and also help me and my boyfriend with buying new things, like clothes and other cool things we can get.”

“It’s very hard to find jobs as a teen. Most searches lead to employers wanting people 18 and up, the working papers is a hassle as well, it takes quite a time to acquire and it’s unnecessary in my opinion for 17 year olds who’ve already got their high school diploma. It seems like a slight age factor is holding most teens from finding a job, which is unfair.”

“With the summer job, I’ll not only benefit my needs but my family since I can show them I’m independent and responsible.”

“I’m looking for a well paid job so I can further my experience in life.”

“I want to earn money so I can afford to go to my dream college if I get accepted. I have a hard time finding a job because I’m 16 and don’t have experience so no one wants to hire me.”

“It’s hard to find a job in NYC, there are so many people and not enough lottery spots.”

“I’m currently 18 years old and struggling to find a job. I applied for a summer youth program but didn’t qualify I was unable to get selected by the lottery.”

“I’m not able to find a job because everyone wants an experienced worker, but how am I supposed to gain experience if no one hires me?”

“As a new high school graduate, it’s been hard for me to find a job. I’m hoping that I can hopefully find a job before starting college to help benefit my future farther.”

“I am a high school student going into my junior year. I was looking for a job at the last minute. Therefore I don’t have a job. I am not looking for money, though I am looking for experience.”

“I’m having a hard time finding a job because of how little experience I have with interviews and hands on work. I would like to gain experience and save enough money to handle my own apartment someday and bills.”

“I also would like to get some job experience before I’m 18 and in the real world because they expect us to have experience at that age but yet no one wants to hire teens.”

“I started training as a waitress in a restaurant last year and saved up a few hundred. However, I want to expand my horizons through a job this summer, but there are no opportunities for me to do so, because I am still at a young age. I have looked for jobs, however none of them would accept youth, only those with experience. I am a teen, in need of a job, to pursue my passion and my future.”

“I’m having an extremely difficult time trying to find a job. I’ve went job hunting in my area at drugstores and clothing shop; I’ve applied to countless positions but I feel as if a 17 year old with no experience is not as reliable as an older applicant.”

“I can’t find a job and I’ll would love to have a job. I’m honestly committed to work and I’m a fast learner so I think I would be a great employee. It is very hard to find a job at my age in my opinion.”

“I’ve been looking for a place to work for the longest time now , I been to every [fast food joint], every retail job but yet I still can’t find one”

“I’ve been looking for a job for over the summer since February, I’ve filled out many applications and heard nothing back so now I have no money to do things this summer because no one is trying to hire teens”

“I’m home from placement trying to do right in my community but I can’t seem to find a summer job “

“I’m 17 and can’t find a job because many of the jobs in Philadelphia hire at 18 years old…and the jobs that do hire at 16 always turn anybody under 18 away! This is a issue that needs to be fixed especially because there are young, mature teenagers who would & could perform a better job than an adult over 18. If a teenager was to get a job at 16-17 it teaches valuable life lessons. Lessons such as time-management (How important it is to get to work early) and Financial responsibility.”

“So many jobs hire at ages 18 and above for tasks that can be done by a skilled 14 year-old and it makes no sense. As teens they should want to help us because this is the time we must learn responsibility and what real adult life will be like.”