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Local youths search for summer employment

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Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2003 10:00 pm

Amanda Reynolds, 16, emerges from the dark theater holding a broom and a dust pan. It is her third week of employment at Lodi Stadium 12 Cinemas, and she enjoys her job.

It wasn't difficult for Reynolds to get her position at Stadium 12 because her father knew one of the managers. Some of her friends were not hired, however, because of the large number of applications Stadium 12 receives.

In her opinion, it is not too hard to find a job as a teen in Lodi, but perhaps she has been lucky. Many teens in Lodi without previous work experience have had no success in their job search.

As of May 2003, 19.8 percent of the state's 16- to 19-year-olds were unemployed. This is the highest percent of unemployed youth in the last two years, said Suzanne Schroeder, spokeswoman for the state Employment Development Department. It seems that summer jobs fall only to young people with connections, luck, or perseverance.

One way local youth sought employment was to put an advertisement in the Lodi News-Sentinel. "Teen Work Ads" ran for free, three days on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday the third week of June.

This year, 42 teens took advantage of the offer, marketing themselves for employment in babysitting, yardwork, computer consultation and dog walking, among other things.

Allie, a 13-year-old with four years of experience babysitting, tutoring, yard work and flute and clarinet expertise said she hasn't got any calls yet.

Anthony, Fernando and Christine all had similar responses. No one had called them in regard to their ads in the paper.

"I just need a job so I can make my car look nice," Anthony said. "Something besides fast food."

Fernando and his friends got a two-week job picking cherries, a job they found on their own, but his summer employment ended there. He has applied to work at a car wash while he is waiting to hear about other opportunities.

Christine wants a job because she's bored. She has applied to work at Mervyns and Burger King, but she hasn't heard back yet.

Not all of Lodi's youth are waiting to hear from people.

Jerrad Lopes prices items as he stocks shelves at Buy 4 Less. (Jerry Tyson/News-Sentinel)

Jerrad Lopes, 16, can be found at Buy 4 Less stocking shelves and carrying boxes five days a week. He said he had a difficult time finding his job, and got results only after he talked to someone from his church who had connections.

He applied to Ace Hardware, Orchard Supply, and Vine and Branches, a Christian book store - all with no results.

One of the most defeating things young people encounter in job searching is that many jobs require experience, and work experience is difficult to come by for 16-year-olds, Lopes said.

"Some of my friends from my youth group have had a lot of frustration in their job searches," he said, adding that most of their frustration is due to a lack of experience and scheduling difficulties.

Lopes didn't ask how much he is getting paid because he was too excited to start working, but he thinks his job will at least pay minimum wage, which is $6.75. With the money he makes, he plans to put gas in his car and start a bank account, where he will save money for Bible college.

Lori Brandt prepares a sandwich at Scooters restaurant on Elm Street in downtown Lodi. (J. Paul Bruton/News-Sentinel)

Lori Brandt, 18, had no problems finding a summer job. In fact, she has two jobs, at Scooters restaurant and at Big 5 Sporting Goods.

She is working to pay for tuition at the University of California at Los Angeles, where she will start as a freshman in the fall.

She's not the first in her family to have to spend her summers working - she has two older sisters who have gone ahead of her. Her family supports her money-making efforts.

"They want me to work for the money, but they miss me because I work so much," she said.

Many employers in Lodi and the surrounding area are not hiring as many people this summer as they have in previous years.

The downtown-area Quiznos has had lots of applications this year, but not many job openings, supervisor Rudy Folores said.

The same was true next door at Scooters. Owner Gordon Smith said he has received many applications, but hired only three new people this summer.

Liz Baker, in the Division of Labor Information for the state of California, said many companies are not offering the traditional summer job this year because they can't support current staff. In Lodi, the unemployment rate in May was 7.1 percent, up from last year at this time, she said.

People are staying out of work longer and the federal government has just recently extended the amount of time one can receive unemployment payments, Baker said.

Although the current unemployment rate is not as high as it has been in previous economic downturns, it is still not at a comfortable level.

Bleak as it may seem, if young people really want to work this summer, they have several resources, said Judy Clemons, the manager of EDD resource centers in Lodi and Stockton.

The Lodi WorkNet center at 631 E. Oak St. is one such resource, Clemons said. A student can walk into the center and be paired with personnel who can help them write a resume, search for jobs in the area or nationwide, discover tips for interviewing, and receive one-on-one help in a number of other areas.

Additionally young people may want to check out">,"> or an employment resource for graduate students,">

said Clemons, even though WorkNet Centers lost federal and state supplemental funding this year, they still have been successful in finding jobs for youth.

"The response from employers this year has been relatively good," Clemons said, adding that WorkNet centers have invaluable resources at their fingertips to help local youth - for free.

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