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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida Teen Unemployment Nears 30%

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Florida has the nation's 10th-highest teen unemployment rate at nearly 29 percent, according to figures from the Employment Policies Institute.

Read the complete EPI release here.

Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at the institute, has been crunching the numbers.

"I think what we see is, as costs have continued to rise, a lot of the jobs that teens used to fill in Florida and elsewhere have been automated. They've gone away."

Teens who typically work as lifeguards or camp counselors may face higher hurdles to land a job, according to the Florida Department of Labor. The state's cities and parks departments generally have fewer resources to hire in this era of state budget cuts.

When there are no jobs for teens, Saltsman says, they're also missing out on learning other valuable skills not necessarily taught in the classroom. If state policymakers don't address the growing labor crisis for young workers, Florida labor leaders say, teen summer jobs could vanish - as already is happening elsewhere.

"McDonald's in Europe is sort of replacing 7,000 employees, essentially, with 7,000 touch-screens - so, instead of placing your order with a person, you place your order on a touch-screen."

Nationally, Labor Department figures show the unemployment rate stands at 24.2 percent for all teens and 40.7 percent for black teens. 

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