By Alex Lippa
---- — Kayla Allard of Windham may only be 15, but she’s already got her mind set on working.
As she thinks about getting her driver’s license, she needs to figure out how to pay for a car, gas and insurance.
But Allard has found tough competition for summer jobs.
“All the college kids come home and fill up the summer jobs,” she said. “They have the connections and people will hire them since they’re older.”
She was able to find a job babysitting.
Allard is not alone among her age group having trouble finding jobs for the summer, according to Anita Josten of New Hampshire Employment Security. Only 8 percent of new hires in New Hampshire during the second quarter of last year were between the ages of 14 and 18.
“That’s pretty typical,” Josten said. “Since 2009, it has hovered around that number.”
On the other hand, Josten said, 13 percent of new hires were adults between 19 and 21.
She said arts and entertainment, food service and retail trade are the industries which hire the most teenagers.
Although younger teens represent a low percentage of those finding jobs, it doesn’t mean they aren’t looking.
Canobie Lake Park has seen hundreds of teens looking for jobs.
“We have more than 100 teens working for us and we’ve had to turn people away,” said Chris Nicoli, spokesman for Canobie Lake Park. “We like to rely on teens because we’re a seasonal business and it coincides with school just getting out.”
Nicoli said the park held two job fairs this spring and both were well attended.
“The last two years, we have seen strong, quality applicants,” he said. “I think it’s because the amount of employment that is available to students has diminished slightly, with the way the job market going.”
The unemployment rate among young adults could be having a trickledown effect on teens. Nationwide, 11.1 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 are unemployed. The unemployment rate for adults is just 7.5 percent.
The state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May was 5.3 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from April.
“It just becomes a struggle once summer comes upon,” said Shiloh VanHyll, 17, of Windham. “All the jobs get filled up around April. This year, I was able to have a little bit of an advantage because I worked during the school year as a telemarketer.”
Many employers hire the same seasonal employees year after year.
“I only hire about three new lifeguards each year,” Windham recreation coordinator Cheryl Haas said. “I try to hire them with the idea that I will be able to have them for several years.”
Jim Salloway of Jim’s Ice Cream Barn in Salem said about eight to 10 teenagers will be working at his shop this summer.
“We have very little turnover here, only one or two of the kids won’t come back each year,” he said. “But I get about 30 applications each year.”
Maggie Doherty, 17, of Derry will be working for the second straight year at Moo’s Place ice cream in Derry for the summer. She considers herself fortunate.
“It’s hard for graduating seniors especially, unless they are looking at jobs which are solely during the summer,” she said. “They are looking for people who will be able to work for them all school year.”
For Martha Allicon, office administrator at Scottish Highlands Golf Course in Salem, it is tough to hire a lot of high school students.
“The jobs we have generally require you to drive a golf cart or be behind a bar,” she said. “The teens we do have are part of the grounds crew.”
But Allicon still sees a lot of hopeful teens.
“I probably get more teens filing than adults,” she said. “A lot of people end up coming back.”
But Solloway said younger teens are really the best people for him to hire.
“Our schedule coincides perfectly with theirs,” he said. “They’re easy to train and they are responsible. When the older kids are still in college during the spring, they are able to come right after school.”