Ron Scherer
Christian Science Monitor
June 6, 2011

Only 1 in 4 teens is working today – the lowest proportion since the end of World War II, according to one researcher. Although some programs are trying to help young Americans get jobs, the unemployment rate for 16-to-19-year-olds who want to work now stands at 24.2 percent, according to the May report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Friday. Among African-American teens, the rate is 40.7 percent.

“I am not hesitant about calling it a crisis,” says Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group.

It’s a crisis with potentially important implications. When teens can’t find work, they have time on their hands and can be prone to getting in trouble. One particular problem can be higher incidences of teen pregnancy. Also, in the long run, teens who don’t work miss out on developing important skills for later on, such as learning to take orders from supervisors, getting along with co-workers, and coping with criticism.

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