Youth Unemployment in New Jersey, Nationwide On the Rise

August 29, 2011

As the school year starts, many teens will be leaving summer jobs to go back to school. But for many others, they are still seeking employment in order to save for college or pay bills.

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reports unemployment among young people increased by 745,000 between April and July -- the July employment rate was the lowest on record for teens since the agency began keeping track in 1948.
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This trend appears to show that adults are taking jobs that teens would be more likely to have as the economy is slow to recover. But it also serves as a warning that parents and teens should be aware of child labor laws in New Jersey.

The youth labor force is classified as people 16 to 24 who are working or actively looking for work. April to July is the time when this segment of the labor force grows sharply because many high school and college students are out of school and graduates are looking for full-time work. It's also legal for 14 and 15 year olds to work under strict guidelines and with careful supervision.

The bureau reports that unemployment among teens grew from 571,000 last year to 745,000 this year.

Perhaps one of the biggest factors why teens were less able to find work this year is that many adults have resorted to taking jobs normally reserved for teenagers. With our state's unemployment at 9.5 percent in July, according to the bureau, many people are scrambling to take any work they can get.

So, the ice cream shops, shoreline hospitality jobs and other work that tends to peak during the summer may have been snatched up by older workers. This can result in teens taking jobs for which they are less suited -- or not reporting dangerous working conditions or other work safety violations for fear of losing a job.

These are adult concerns for sure, since everyone has the right to a safe work environment. But child labor laws have been specifically written to protect our youngest workers. In addition to state child labor laws specific to New York and New Jersey, federal child labor laws include:

-Work limits during school hours.

-Hour limits per day and per week.

-Limits regarding work in manufacturing, mining and processing operations.

-Limits involving the operation of machinery.

-Regulations regarding riding in motor vehicles.

-Loading and unloading rules and regulations.

In general, work options for those ages 14 and 15 are severely limited. While those ages 16 and 17 have more options. There are also any number of regulations involving participation in work-study programs, after-school programs and working in agriculture.

If you feel your employer has discriminated against you based on age or you are dealing with work safety laws in New York or New Jersey, contact the Resnick Law Group, P.C. at 973-781-1204 or 646-867-7997. We are located in East Hanover, N.J. and Midtown Manhattan on Broadway.

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Young Workers in New Jersey Have Workplace Rights: August 12, 2011