Maybe the teens aren’t worth hiring?

Don Quixote and I dined at McDonald’s today.  Usually, the employees are Hispanic.  Their English is fractured, but the service is competent and friendly.  Today, we had a young Caucasian boy, who looked to be around 17 or 18.  He did not look as if he had a disability.  (I recognize that not all disabilities are obvious to the beholder, but certainly some leave their mark on a person’s face or in his movements.)  Instead, he just radiated incompetence.  We’d seen him at this McDonald’s before, so he didn’t have the excuse of being a brand new hire.  He was just a numbskull.

I thought of him today when I saw that this is the worst summer for teens since WWII when it comes to jobs:

For the third year in a row, American teenagers hoping to land summer jobs will face the worst teen hiring slump since World War II.

The unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds is 24.9 percent nationally, and in some major cities the rate is much higher.  In Washington, DC, the teen unemployment rate is 51.7 percent.

I believe that a large share of the blame for this dismal economic scene lies with a president who sucked money out of the private sector, which functions efficiently, and parked it with the government, which does not. I do wonder, though, whether we can also blame forty to fifty years of Leftist education of the type that resulted in young people who have no logic, cannot count change without a calculator, don’t know the meaning of the word “polite,” and have a nonexistent work ethic.  Even when they’re sweet-natured and honest, a lot of these kids just aren’t worth hiring.

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  • Charles Martel

    I’m surprised the kid works at McDonald’s. McD usually trains its personnel pretty well.
    I agree that he is probably the product of our vaunted public schools, those glorious pathways to informed citizenship and intellectual acuity. You can find many of their graduates constructing and managing inspirational habitations at Occupy events. 

  • Danny Lemieux

    Most of my kids’ peers absolutely despise fast-food work as demeaning. Personally, one of my best jobs in college was working at McDonalds – they had a great training program that taught a strong work ethic. I have fond memories of those days.

    One of my teachings in Sunday School is about people using their talents to contribute to others (the parable of the gold coins). I explain to my comfortable, limousine liberal-middle class-origin middle schoolers that no matter what job you do, if you are contributing to society, it is honorable. I try to get them to look at each job in terms of what the world would be like if there was nobody to do it.

    Although they inevitably list “fast food worker” as one of the worst, most demeaning jobs they can imagine, I usually get them to grudgingly agree that it is very honorable work because it provides a service.

    The Hispanic kids (legal or otherwise), of course, are not burdened with such attitudes. They are just happy to work. 

  • Beth

    A couple thoughts–many middle-class teens are not equipped to find a job.  Most do not know how to talk to an adult, certainly not looking them in the eye.  So much of the communication in their lives is conducted via texting and facebook that actual conversations elude them.  Those who do happen to land a job tend to call in at the drop of a pool party–if they call-in at all.  Sports tend to rule the lives of the athletically inclined and their parents easily put baseball/football/volleyball/basketball ahead of employment–thinking I suppose that the child will get a sports scholarship. 
    My daughter (20) as I mentioned in another post is spot-welding–she took this over the other jobs she’s had due to the guaranteed 40 hours per week and more than minimum wage.  But I will say that she has several friends that have never worked a day in their lives and I’m not surprised–due to the above. 
    Not worth hiring is one aspect, not even looking is another.

  • Ymarsakar

    Working at a fast food restaurant would be a very good training program for watching people, observing them, and seeing what makes them tick.

    It also can refine social escalation or de-escalation skills. Plus there’s nothing stopping teenagers from watching the security guards and how they work, whether they are competent or incompetent, etc.

    Then there’s the whole “if I wanted to come in and rob this place, what would I do and if I wanted to come in and gun everybody down, how would I do it” training scenarios for the mind.

    Or am I the only one that thinks like that? 

  • Ymarsakar

    In my neighborhood, a group of teenagers, maybe 12 years old, maybe 15, some 17s, push a lawnmover across the neighborhood and knock on doors to ask people if they need their grass cut.

    Does this count as work ethics or is it the new encroachment of Sarah Palin’s influence? 

  • JKB

    Never fear, the government is hear.

    I don’t want to spoil the surprise but check out the restrictions on this business license

    “I just opened a summer-seasonal camping business in Washington state. Given that I mainly need relatively unskilled help landscaping and cleaning up from Memorial Day to Labor Day, one would think that this would be a natural place for high school kids to look for work.”

  • Danny Lemieux

    Beth, if your daughter was willing to move to western North Dakota, I suspect that her talents would be worth very big money. It’s a beautiful state, btw…one of America’s best-kept secrets.

  • phaedruscj

    In my opiion, the increase in minimum wage has made it difficult to justify hiring kids into entry level jobs.

    This guy does a good job providing job data.

  • David Foster

    Several manufacturers have commented on the difficulty to finding people who have the basic math skills to read a ruler or micrometer and to perform simple geometric calculations. I was talking to a guy who teaches landscaping at a community college, and he said basically the same thing.

    It’s sometimes asked: why don’t the employers provide training? IF someone understands arithmetic with fractions and decimals, you can teach him ruler/micrometer reading….but to go back and train him in the basics of arithmetic that he should have learned by 6th grade will not usually be feasible. 

  • David Foster

    Also: while poor teaching of math and reading can keep high school graduates out of several categories of jobs, other categories of jobs are foreclosed by the kind of brittle and prickly personality structure encouraged by “self-esteem” programs. Someone who cannot get a bad grade without breaking into tears, or even tolerate having his paper marked up in red ink, is very unlikely to succeed in any kind of measurable sales position.

    My most-recent post: Wolf among Wolves