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Immigrants taking jobs usually held by US youths

After school and summer jobs traditionally dominated by teenagers in the US are more frequently being given to immigrants, according to employment figures.

Last year, 36% of those ages 16 to 19 held some sort of job, be it a newspaper delivery route or a full-time position in lieu of high school or college. That is down from 45% in 2000 and is the lowest level since 1947.

US teenagers are at a disadvantage in the current job market, in which employers are less willing to hire workers with little or no job experience. Some experts fear that these and other shifts in the job market could persist and hurt future prospects for many youths.

Experts say teenagers have a hard time finding a job because they don't have the attributes that employers are looking for — the skills, the appearance, and perhaps the attitudes. Add to that more competition from better qualified workers.

Teens are being crowded out of jobs by older workers and immigrants of all ages, who are willing to take menial jobs that once were the province of teens. Employers generally see both groups as more reliable than teenagers.

Immigrants may have also gained at the expense of teenagers because some employers may prefer immigrants. One economist says businesses he speaks to talk about immigrants' strong work ethic and prior experience in their native countries.