Youth employment boosts as businesses face hiring hardships

May unemployment rate dropped to 9.6% for teens ages 16-19

Workers are wanted and some local employers are turning to younger people to fill the void.

CAMPBELL COUNTY, Va. – C&C Piping and Fabrication in Altavista is looking to fuse a situation facing many industries.

“We’ve had some people leave that can go find better jobs because everywhere, obviously, is hiring right now,” said foreman and welder James Higginbotham.

He said with places reopening from the pandemic, people are looking to earn more money, so they’re turning to a younger crowd to fill their void.

“A lot of young guys are coming in that never had the work experience, and now they’re getting to come somewhere and make pretty decent money,” said Higginbotham.

Nineteen-year-old Tanner Cox is one of them. He started working part-time eight months ago.

“It gives young kids a great advantage as far as getting in the doors anywhere,” said Cox.

He’s part of a nationwide trend, as the unemployment rate for teens 16-to-19 dropped to 9.6% in May.

“There’s definitely evidence to suggest youth are filling a lot of positions right now, that might have otherwise gone to older adults,” said Tim Saunders, who tracks labor market data with Virginia Career Works.

Younger, single people who don’t have children are having an easier time getting into the workforce, while parents face certain conditions.

“I do believe it’s because a lot of parents, in particular, people who have children to take care of, or maybe a parents themselves to take care of; they’ve got schedules and situations, even health considerations, to think about,” said Saunders.

He said unemployment benefits aren’t solely to blame for keeping people home.

“It’s not fair to say that the unemployment benefits alone are preventing people from applying because the data doesn’t back that up.”

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.