Akil Alvin, 19 and from Detroit, is struggling to land a job as he competes with older, more skilled applicants. Alex Lothspeich, 17 and from Charlotte, North Carolina, is choosing not to enter the workforce to focus on high school.
Both illustrate changes sweeping the teen labor force. Young Americans such as Alvin who want to work can’t find jobs as unemployment among 16-to-19-year-olds stands at more than three times the rate for all workers. At the same time, more teens are taking Lothspeich’s tack, forsaking paid positions to concentrate on getting into college.