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Summer sends Owen County teens looking for work

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By Mary Alford
N-H Staff Writer
It’s summer time and kids everywhere are beginning to look for their chance to make it in the workforce.
But in Owen County, even with an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent, finding that summer job might have some at a loss.
According to NBC News, teenagers are going to have their work cut out for them landing summer jobs in this market. They will be competing against older individuals who already have experience under their belts.
Owen County Chamber of Commerce President Dawn Davis said, “Those jobs that we used to typically think of as summer jobs for student workers are now being filled with the older workers who are put out of work.”
According to the United States Census Bureau, Owen County has an estimated population of about 10,765, with 24.7 percent under the age of 18.
The overall unemployment rate in Kentucky is 7.9 percent.
In preparation for summer 2013, the Employment Policies Institute released an analysis that highlighted the nation’s 24.1 percent teen unemployment rate.
The current teen unemployment rate in Kentucky is at 20.5 percent. South Carolina is leading teen unemployment in the country with 33.2 percent.
“People [age 15-18] and all ages are finding it difficult to locate jobs everywhere,” Davis said.
James Thompson, a 2013 Owen County High School graduate, knows how hard it is to find a job.
“Not all places hire all the time and it is very difficult to find a place that fits your schedule,” Thompson said.
 According to Michael Saltsman, research director of the Employment Policies Institute, this will be the fifth consecutive summer of high unemployment for teens.
“Summer jobs are the first rung on the employment ladder for most teenagers and research shows that part-time employment has a positive effect on future career earnings,” Saltsman said.
Davis volunteered advice for all prospective workers, such as be prepared for whatever education level is needed, start early with a good work ethic, develop soft skills such as communications, volunteer in the community and have good basic computer skills.
“Workers of today need to have good computer skills to create a professional looking resume, to apply on line for the job, to operate equipment in the manufacturing and office environments or to simply enroll in the company’s benefit programs,” Davis said.
According to Davis, there are still openings with Itron’s production assembly positions, however the individual must be 18. Anyone interested can go through the factory’s temporary staffing agency, Adecco, and apply online.
“Adecco hosts events at the local library weekly and assists applicants with the online application process,” Davis said.
Itron has other openings in maintenance and engineering, which can be found on their website at www.Itron.com.
Junior Achievement’s 2013 Teens and Summer Jobs survey revealed the teen population was confident in finding summer jobs. The national survey consisting of 14-18 year-olds showed nearly 63 percent planned on getting a summer job and of those, 92 percent were confident they would find seasonal work.
Ashley Smith, a student at Owen County High School, succeeded in obtaining her summer job and had some words of advice for her fellow classmates.
“I guess my advice would be to show leadership because employers look at how you behave outside of work,” Smith said.