Boston Globe, June 2021
Wendy Issokson, owner of the Chill on Park ice cream shop in the Fields Corner section of Dorchester, is struggling to find full-time workers. Yet Alicia Cruz, a 19-year-old from East Boston, can’t find a job. She has worked in restaurants and stores for years, and used to get hired “basically on the spot.” Not this year. “It’s like, ‘Wow, nobody wants to hire me,’ ” Cruz said. “You want to have money in your pocket but you can’t do anything but keep searching.”
As Boston’s economy revs up in this post-COVID-19 summer, there’s a disconnect in the labor market that’s frustrating economists and workers alike. Stores and restaurants are staffing up en masse, which should make it a good time for job growth. Employers say they’re eager to hire. Yet for teens who are looking for work right now, it can still be a difficult and messy process. On paper, are many positive indicators for teen job-hunters. More than 33 percent of teens ages 16 to 19 were employed last month — the highest percentage since 2008, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, after years of that number trending downward. And the share of teens who say they want work and can’t find it is falling.
But those broad national numbers can mask a lot of nuance, said Alicia Sasser Modestino, an economist at Northeastern University, who noted that Black and Hispanic teens, for instance, tend to have more limited job access.