US teens struggle to find elusive part-time jobs

By STEPHANIE REITZ | January 11, 2012 | 2:35 AM EST

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Teenagers throughout the U.S. are finding it increasingly difficult to land the after-school, weekend and summer jobs they need for experience and spending money.

While the nation's average 2011 unemployment rate was 9 percent, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says it was almost 25 percent for job-seekers between 16 and 19 years old. That's up 10 percentage points from a decade ago.

Experts say many of the entry-level positions once sought primarily by teens are being nabbed by older people who need the paycheck. Automation has also eliminated many jobs at traditionally teen-friendly employers like car washes, photocopy shops and supermarkets.

Participants at a forum Tuesday in Hartford say the trend is alarming, and society suffers when an entire generation's chance to learn workplace skills are delayed or denied.