With school winding down toward summer break, teenagers across Houston are making summer plans. For some of them, that includes a summer job.
A recent survey by Junior Achievement of South Texas shows 86 percent of Houston teens plan to work this summer. But around the country, and including Texas, teen unemployment has been over 20 percent for the past four years.
"It's like real hard because the jobs they say they're hiring, we fill out applications and they still don't call us," said high school junior Megan Bibrell.
"We had opportunities," said high school junior Keshonne Washington. "I think those opportunities have been taken back."
Reverend Robert McKinley Gilmore heads up Real Urban Ministry, and says not enough is being done to get teens into the workforce, which he says leads to too many kids on the streets with nothing productive to do.
"It leads to nothing more than violence, which you've already seen in the city of Houston, criminal activity," he said. "They're going to do something illegal. You know? Momma can't afford it, so where else are you going to look?"
There are the typical jobs for teenagers, summer jobs at shopping malls, movie theaters, and restaurants. But these days, teens can find themselves competing with adults for those jobs.
Granted, not all and not even the majority of bored teenagers will find themselves in trouble, but community leaders say they are much better off in the workforce than the alternative.
"We must invest in workforce development," said Rev. Carl Matthews with Christian Life Community Ministries. "I think either we pay it now or we pay it later."
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