LIMA - Earning a few extra dollars may be a more daunting task this summer for area teens and college students than in years past. A flimsy economy and high prices for fuel, food and deliveries all might combine to squeeze the summer job market.For some, application after application has been met by rejection or complete silence from potential employers. Others have benefited from past opportunities."Usually, they'll say we're taking applications and they'll hand you an application. You don't really know if they're hiring, you don't know if I'm filling out this application will it do me any good," said Adam Dellinger, an 18-year-old University of Toledo student from Lima. "Only once in a blue moon do they actually say, ‘Yes we're looking for some help' or something. It's just really uncertain. Some will say, ‘We're not hiring right now, but you can take an application.' It's just kind of pointless to me."Dellinger isn't alone in his frustration. A researcher from Northeastern University, in Boston, wrote earlier this year that the outlook for summer employment is dismal.Not all the news is bad, however. Some area teens are finding jobs through persistence and past experience.A dismal outlookThe teen employment picture has been deteriorating since the fall of 2006, according to Andrew Sum, a professor of economics at Northeastern University and director of the school's Center for Labor Market Studies."The deterioration of national labor market conditions has accelerated the collapse of the teen job market across the country," Sum wrote in a report issued in April. "Teen employment rates have been declining sharply since the fall of 2006, well before the national job market began to deteriorate, and the drop has accelerated in recent months."Sum's research found that the teen employment to population ratio was only 33.5 percent. According to Sum, that implies that "only one of every three teenagers (16 to 19 years old) was employed in any type of job during an average month over the January to March period."As a comparison, Sum notes the teen employment to population ratio in 2000 was 45.2 percent.Kazuhisa Matsuda, assistant professor of economics at Ohio Northern University, in Ada, agreed that teens and college-age students indeed might struggle to find a job this summer."It is a very tight market this summer," Matsuda said. "There are factors for this. One factor, a demand factor, is that employers are trying to hire less part-time workers this summer because of the slowing down of the economy."As economists and policymakers argue about whether the economy is in a recession, Matsuda said, there is no question there is a slowdown. The slowdown is taking its toll on the summer job market, he said."There is less demand for high school, part-time workers. There is also a supply side factor," Matsuda said. "Because of the high gasoline prices, high food prices, the inflation rate is very high these days. Maybe the parents are telling their kids you have to pay for your gas, for example. So, the supply of these high school students in the part-time job market is high so there is less demand for them."An unfamiliar experienceSome of those struggling to find summer work are treading into new territory."I have never had trouble getting jobs in the past - ever. This is just strange," said Lima resident Sarah Orosz, a 21-year-old senior-to-be at Bowling Green State University. "I have a lot of good references and I put my past positions on there. I've never been fired. I've never done anything to stain my working record. I can't get anything. It's just bizarre."Orosz thought she would be able to step into a position with the city of Lima similar to the one she had last year. It didn't pan out. When classes let out the first part of the month, Orosz began hitting the pavement, visiting area employers and filling out as many applications as she could."The trouble is I have to pay for an apartment next year. I need a full-time position," Orosz said. "It's so hard for someone like me. You can get a part-time position, but that usually doesn't pay and there aren't a lot of hours. I need 40 hours a week to pay to live next year. That's really frustrating."Her fiancée, Dellinger, said connections seem to make the difference."It just seems like you've got to know somebody to get work anywhere," Dellinger said. "I feel like when I actually apply somewhere and I don't know anybody or have any experience there or no experience in the field, I feel like I almost have no shot. They're going to take anybody with experience over me."Others have part-time positions but the money isn't enough to save up for living expenses when they head off to college in the fall."I can't get a job because a lot of places are asking for a high school diploma or a GED," said Jordann Germann, 18, a senior at Crestview High School, in Convoy. "Sometimes, they're looking for immediate positions to be filled. They won't wait around for you to graduate even though I only have a week left of school. It's kind of frustrating, I guess."A part-time receptionist at a hair salon, Germann said the pay is not enough to save up for college. Her job search started in retail but it's an evolving search, she said."A lot of places like that aren't hiring," Germann said. "I'm at the point now I'll go with whatever takes me."Orosz agreed."I don't know what the problem is. There are a lot of applicants and everybody's trying to get hired," Orosz said. "I have a friend that lives in Bowling Green and she can't find a job either. We're both college-age, responsible students. I don't know what they're looking for."Orosz blames the economy."Gas prices keep going up. Maybe that has to do with people not wanting to hire and just keeping the staff they have," she said. "I haven't even had an interview yet."Not all bad newsIt's not all bad news in the summer job market.Karen Grothouse, vice president of sales and operation for Spherion in Lima, said her company has an abundance of job opportunities for college-age students."In our industry, we always see an increase in business from May through September or October. That is holding true this year," Grothouse said. "As of two weeks ago, orders are coming in every day. They're more in the industrial, manufacturing realm. We have plenty of job opportunities for college students."As for the slowdown and hiring freezes others are experiencing, Grothouse said the boom started later but there's no lack of available opportunities."We are very busy and we could probably put most of our college students to work if they have good work ethics," Grothouse said. "I would have initially said our first quarter was slow, but I'm not seeing that now. A lot of companies have held off as long as they could to be able to put extra staff on. Now, we're somewhat overwhelmed with orders. First quarter was slow, but I'm thinking that caused us to ramp up a little bit more right now."Having previous experience with an employer also doesn't hurt.Jerry Suter, owner of Suter's Produce, in Pandora, said the farm employed more than 160 high school and college students last year. He's expecting more of the same - perhaps even more - this year."We almost have that many that have applied so far this year. A lot of them come back year after year," Suter said. "We've got wonderful kids in the area. They work hard. They're fun to work with. It's what makes my job easier because the kids are such good kids."Andrew Yoakam, 20, of Bluffton, a student at Cedarville University, has been working on the farm for seven or eight years. As the school year came to a close, he knew he would have a place to work this summer."I feel pretty lucky. Right now at this point, I'm looking for some internships, too," Yoakam said. "I felt lucky this year because all my internship opportunities fell through but I already had a summer job so I didn't have to go out and look for one. I feel pretty fortunate."Jason Suter, whose uncle, Jerry, owns Suter's produce, agreed."It's nice to have a job I know will be there. I won't have to look for one," said Suter, 20, of Pandora, a student at Bethel College, in Indiana. "It's nice to work with good people and have fun at the same time."
Tara Cutlip, 21 and pregnant with her second child, was shot and killed Saturday in her Bahama Drive home. Loved ones gather in front of Tara's home to remember her and speak out against domestic violence.