Many Chicago-area teens left without promise of summer jobs amid COVID-19 closures

CLARENDON HILLS, Ill. (WLS) -- Financial struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic are leading to a lack of summer jobs for teenagers, many of whom rely on the income for the upcoming school year.

At Hinsdale Golf Club, owners are enforcing strict rules about social distancing so that golfers can stay safe while enjoying the sport. It means no caddies, and therefore, no job for 17-year-old Josh Keating.

Keating has worked at the club for the last three summers.

"I use a lot of the money to put into my savings account for college," Keating said.

The Hinsdale Central High School junior is one of thousands of teenagers around the state who are finding the traditional summer job market has dried up this year.

Seasonal retail jobs are going to be limited, while entertainment venues and amusement parks are delaying or cancelling their seasons.

"Younger workers are particularly hard hit because the industries where they traditionally work are closed, like entertainment and leisure," said Andy Challenger, an employment productivity expert.

Josh Keating's sister Lauren has worked as a lifeguard at the club's pool during the last few summers. But beaches and most swimming pools are closed at least for the start of the season.

So Lauren Keating, who just finished her freshman year at the University of Iowa, is trying to pick up any work she can right now.

"I have to pay for housing and other expenses and I was planning on using this job as a way to make money for the school year so it's a setback," she said.

Meanwhile, record-setting adult unemployment statistics are another issue for teens.

"They're also facing competition from older workers who've lost employment in the last 7-8 weeks," said Challenger.

He and other experts say the tight summer job market could have a long-term impact, including students graduating college with more debt and then finding fewer full-time jobs.
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