Myer, 15, is happily scooping out 31 flavors of ice cream and making a decent wage to help her save up for that teen dream of getting a car.
Though she finally found employment at the new Baskin-Robbins on Prater Way and McCarran Boulevard, Myer said the job search took her a long while and that competition was tough. But Myer, who will attend Truckee Meadows Community College High School as a junior in the fall, had an advantage over other teens: She had already worked three jobs and garnered valuable work experience.
In June, the school bell rang and students were set free. Thousands of local teens are now out of high school for the summer and many may be looking for local summer jobs. Unfortunately, those students jumped head first into a job pool that finds 11.3 percent of Nevada’s adult population in the same jobless boat.
The major onslaught of those seeking summer employment starts in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor.
The bureau reports that this July spike rocketed the youth labor force by 3.1 million to a total of 24.4 million in July last year.
But that same report also claimed that summer jobs were a reality last year.
In all, the number of employed youth ages 16 to 24 jumped from 1.9 million to 21.0 million last year, according to federal government statistics.
Logic dictates that the infusion of an age-qualified work force might make unemployment numbers spike. But according to the BLS, these seasonal fluctuations are smoothed over by a little numbers game.
A spokesman from the bureau’s west coast office pointed to the June Unemployment Situation Report, which explains the seasonal adjustment technique.
“These adjustments make non-seasonal developments, such as declines in economic activity or increases in the participation of women in the labor force, easier to spot,” the report states. “For example, the large number of youth entering the labor force each June is likely to obscure any other changes that have taken place relative to May, making it difficult to determine if the level of economic activity has risen or declined.”
Nationally, unemployment among youth ages 16 to 25 jumped 55 percent from April 2008 to July 2008, according to the bureau.
Local numbers for unemployed youth this summer are not collected by the bureau, but Myer knows she is fortunate to defy the trends, even of those from recent years.
Last summer, she worked two jobs: one as a kitchen runner at Wild Waters in Sparks and another taking care of farm animals in the barn of Great Basin Adventure Park in Reno.
But her position at Great Basin Adventure Park was the one she really wanted and she had fun working with the animals.
Myer said she definitely noticed a surge in the number of applications for all jobs between last year and this year.
“At Great Basin, there were 80 applicants and they only hired six new people,” she said.
She went to the Legends at Sparks Marina’s job fair at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in April, where thousands lined up around the hotel-casino for 700 jobs and where older, more experienced adults were vying for work.
“It was really crazy,” she said. “My friends and I went back in the afternoon when it was dying down.”
Baskin-Robbins owner Pamela Culbertson said she received about 500 applications this summer.
“I had teens coming in every day and I can’t hire all those people, but I did hire a few, including two college students and (Myer),” she said.
The young person’s attitude can make all the difference in allowing them to stay on staff, she said.
“I’ve got a few of them looking for job experience. One of them said they think they could be really good here and hope they get a good reference and I think that was pretty mature for a kid to say,” Culbertson said. “I had another kid who was always trying to get weekends off and I had to ask them, ‘Do you want a job or not?’ ”
Occasionally, she’s had the teen who has outright complained about their schedules and got “in her face,” during their employment and after she fired them, she said.
“I give them a couple of chances and explain what I expect,” she said. “Two of them sent me nasty e-mails afterward and I thought, ‘Wow, I never would have done that at their age.’ ”
She attributes changing teen attitudes about work to adults making excuses for their kids, but also noted that not all youth gripe about their jobs. She even provides incentives, like gift cards for Starbucks or the movies for doing good work.
“It’s a motivator and I believe in rewards for good behavior,” she said.
Myer, like many teens, is hoping to save up for a car and understands she has to be willing to put in the effort to get what she wants. She also said she prefers summer work to having nothing to do around the house while school’s out.
“I don’t like just sitting around,” she said. “I want to be proactive.”