Teens Face Tough Job Market

Best jobs locked up before out-of-school students flood limited local labor market

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Rim Country teens this summer face tough job prospects, if they're looking for anything better than slinging fast food. An informal survey of teens and the places that employ them found that most businesses stick with workers they hired during the year in the soft economy.

The businesses that do hire, mostly include high-turnover places like fast food restaurants, which gear up every summer to handle the influx of Rim Country visitors.

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David Hoff, a host at Chili's Restaurant in Payson, guides a family to a table for their evening meal. Pictured are (from left to right) Sarah Alexander, Melissa Dunn, Hoff and Carol Barthollomew.

David Hoff, a recent Payson High School graduate, joined the Chili's Grill and Bar team in May. Finishing his hosting duties for the night, Hoff shared his frustration about job hunting.

"I applied pretty much everywhere in town. I tried six to eight different places. No one was hiring."

Hoff decided to make one more attempt and submitted his application to Chili's. Two days later, he received a phone call for an interview.

The company's policy is to remain 100 percent staffed at all times and with business picking up for the summer, Chili's had put up its hiring sign.

"We get a lot of kids from school and some that come back for the summer from college," said Debbie Brink, a manager at Chili's.

People between the ages of 16 and 25 account for the bulk of the employees. Some employees re-located, a few transferred, while others joined the Chili's team due to cutbacks from other employers.

Some students got a head start by securing jobs at least a year in advance and maintained their positions during the school months.

Tito Morales, a junior this fall at PHS, joined the Wendy's crew when he saw the help wanted sign.

"It was the only place I applied to, and I was hired immediately. The best part (of the job) is taking orders and meeting new people," said Morales.

During the school months, Morales cuts his hours back to three days a week to focus on his studies. That changes come summer.

"Right now, because of the summer, I work up to 40 hours a week,"e said.

Since the company's age limit is 16, "many of the crew members are primarily teenagers. The majority of them continue on through school.

"There are those who quit to focus on their studies," said Steven Shiflett, Wendy's manager.

While the employees come and go frequently in the fast-food industries, other businesses stopped hiring as a result of company cutbacks.

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Lacee Hart puts the finishing touches on a pan of breadsticks before they are placed in the oven at Pizza Factory in Payson.

"I can guarantee that's why we're not hiring, because of the (weak) economy and other factors. I wouldn't hire unless someone quit right now. Our payroll is based on sales," said Jeremey Elmer, Bashas' merchandising manger.

As for Walgreens, it recruits staff members during the Christmas season.

"The crew we have now were hired during the winter time. We actually do most of our hiring then and haven't had to hire since," said Daniel Malloy, assistant manager.

Stricter qualifications are set up for applicants interested in Blockbuster Video. With an age restriction of 18 years or older, most high school students can't submit an application.

"We haven't received a lot of applications for the summer and really haven't had to hire. Seems everyone is holding onto their jobs because of the economy," said Brian Davis, a Blockbuster manager.

There are students who choose to make money in different ways. Laurn Nossek, a high school sophomore this fall, has been babysitting for years.

"I've been babysitting since I was 13," said Nossek.

By following in her older sister's steps, Nossek gained the skills and trust of her sister's customers and the two share work opportunities. Nossek said that she enjoys the work, and has known the families (customers) for many years. The appeal of the job is flexibility, allowing Nossek to cut back or increase her hours depending on her needs.

Her focus is to put her earnings into savings.

Businesses with a different perspective include family-owned businesses such as the Pizza Factory.

Gail Dahlman, who co-owns the company with her husband Rod, said that the main hiring season occurs near the end of May, after school's out, and again around August, when the semester begins.

"Ninety-five percent of the staff are high school students," said Dahlman.

Bailey Hakari is one of the students employed by the couple. "I was offered the job, and have been here for a year and a half."

Dahlman noticed an increase in application submission and suspects many people are looking for jobs as a result of the limited market.

The Town of Payson also hires students for seasonal summer work in areas such as Taylor Pool.

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