More Unemployed Teenagers in Washington D.C. and Mississippi Than Anywhere Else in the Nation

Mississippi Job Corps Center students Jacquetta Wilson, right, and Jazmen Walker, center, practice taking a blood pressure reading on fellow student Alexis Hines in the Health Occupational Technology Center at the facility in Crystal Springs. / Rick Guy/The Clarion-Ledger
Mississippi Job Corps Center students Jacquetta Wilson, right, and Jazmen Walker, center, practice taking a blood pressure reading on fellow student Alexis Hines in the Health Occupational Technology Center at the facility in Crystal Springs. / Rick Guy/The Clarion-Ledger

Mississippi had the highest unemployment rate among teenagers in the U.S. last year, with three of every 10 teens out of work, preliminary federal data shows.

Mississippi’s 32.3 percent jobless rate for 2013 among 16- to 19-year-olds was the highest of any state and trailed only the District of Columbia, at 34.2 percent, overall in the U.S., according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That rate in Mississippi has gone up from 24 percent in 2012 and 23.4 percent in 2011.

“It seems Mississippi took a pretty big jump in 2013,” said Michael Saltsman, research director for the Employment Policies Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

The recession and the massive layoffs of older, more experienced workers that resulted meant teenagers were competing against those older workers for the same jobs, Saltsman said. But a combination of technology and an emphasis on cutting costs is exacerbating the problem, he said.

Retail stores don’t have as many workers on sales floors as in years past, he said, while restaurant servers more frequently bus their own tables, reducing the number of workers on staff. Saltsman is concerned the increasing trend of restaurant patrons placing orders on tablets at their tables could thin the teen workforce at such establishments further.

The Brookings Institute says the teen employment rate in metro Jackson has steadily fallen since 2000.

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SOURCE: Jeff Ayres  
The Clarion-Ledger

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