By Bill Cresenzo
Virginia's teen unemployment rate is up slightly over last summer, but down almost 3 percent compared to 2010, according to figures released by a Washington think tank.
The Employment Policies Institute says the current unemployment rate for teens aged 16-19 is 20.4 percent, up slightly from 19 percent in 2011, and down from 23.2 percent in 2010.
The national average is 24.6 percent. The institute says that the teen unemployment rate is above 25 percent in 18 states, and the unemployment rate has been above 20 percent for more than 3 1/2 years.
The teen unemployment rate does not include all teens, just like the regular unemployment rate does not include all adults. It includes all teens who are in the workforce and those who are trying to join the workforce.
"Part of the dynamic is that they are competing with adults who may have more experience," said Bob Sharak, development officer for Opportunity Inc. of Hampton Roads.
Opportunity Inc. is a nonprofit that works to place teenagers in jobs, particularly through its Workforce Investment Act program, which has placed 216 Hampton Roads teens in jobs for the summer, making $7.25 per hour.
The center also runs the Youth Career Center of Hampton Roads, which works to place teenagers in hotel and restaurant jobs, as well as a Job Club, a five-week program that trains teens on how to look for jobs, from showing them how to dress to how to ace an interview.
At a recent job fair, 26 teens were hired and 45 had second interviews, Sharak said.
He said that in 2010, there were 105,959 teenagers 16-19 in Hampton Roads and of those, 46,000 were in the workforce.