Teenagers having a hard time finding work

Posted at: 05/07/2013 5:55 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It’s hard to be a teenager looking for work in New Mexico these days.

The teen unemployment rate here is almost 19 percent, more than twice as bad as the jobless rate for grownups.

We paid a visit to Rain Tunnel Car Spa at Central and Rio Grande in Old Town, expecting to find some teenage workers.

Wrong. You don’t find many teenagers working in the car wash industry now, with some notable exceptions. One of them is working at Rain Tunnel.

Xavier Rojo is 18, and he’s a stud at Rain Tunnel – the drive-off man. But just about everybody else is over 21. Owner Buck Buckner says teenagers, especially high school teenagers, just aren’t a good fit.

“Because we’re a daytime business those hours are very limited for the teenager,” Buckner told us during a very busy lunch hour at the Rain Tunnel. “He has to come in and report at 3, and probably by 5:30 winter hours we close, and 6 o’clock summer hours we close. He’s off the clock, so it shortens his hours.”

Xavier is a student at CNM, where he’s studying automotive technology and design. His job fits his school schedule.

“They were hiring and I just kept coming back and trying my hardest,” Xavier said while wiping down a newly washed car. “You keep applying yourself and you go out there and look for jobs and you can find one. We’re in a tough economy but I believe you can really find a job if you really work hard, no matter what job it is.”

New Mexico’s 19 percent teenage jobless rate is actually way better than most states. The national average is just over 24 percent. In California and South Carolina it’s 33 percent! So for once we’re not in the bottom ten!

Not even close.