Tennessee teens have trouble finding summer jobs

(WMC-TV) - A recent study claims teenagers cannot get summer work.

In Tennessee, more than half of the teen workforce is underutilized.

According to a recently released U.S. Department of Labor Statistics study, seven in 10 teens cannot find summer jobs.

The city of Memphis' Summer Youth Employment program used to employ anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 teenagers before it hit multiple snags.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton overhauled the program and instead of focusing on teens working, it is more about teens growing.

"We've turned it in to a character development. Citizenship. Community responsibility. And why they have to do community service projects," said Mayor Wharton.

The downside???

Instead of thousands of teenagers on the clock, thousands get turned away by random drawing.

"We can only enroll 800 now," said Wharton.

And while the new model may result in fewer teens being utilized, Wharton said they were not being properly utilized under the old model anyway.

"We introduce them to life beyond high school very early. They weren't getting that in the summer jobs program," said the mayor.

According to this study, in Tennessee, the teen labor force is about 107,000 strong. About 39,000 are unemployed.

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