The current teen unemployment rate in Louisiana is 26.1 percent, according to minimumwage.com. With this statistic affecting teens age 16 to 19 everywhere, Morehouse Parish is doing its part to help out by hiring teens during the summer months.
“Youth unemployment is high. It’s in excess of 25 percent,” said Chemin-A-Haut State Park Manager Russ Brantley.
Brantley said the park provides jobs for teenagers during the summer, and weekends during the school year. He said in spite of the stigma that some place on young people today, he’s impressed by the teens employed at the park.
“I’ve got a lot of teenagers working out here this summer,” he said. “So many people are down on young people today and say they’re not as hardworking as the generation before them.”
Eight teens are employed at the park, doing jobs such as lifeguards, office work, housekeeping and maintenance. Brantley said the teens he employs are showing promise.
“All the ones here are good workers,” he said. “They come to work on time, they show good work ethics, and they do a good job.”
Bastrop Super Foods is another establishment that employs teens. Store manager Mike Woods said he receives “dozens” of applications when school lets out.
“I hire them all the time,” he said. “I don’t have the space available to hire all the ones that apply, but I do try to hire as many teens as I can for the summer.”
BSF can hire teens as early as 16 years old. Woods knows the importance of giving them a chance to earn work experience.
“I know they need money for the summer,” he said. “Working keeps them off the streets. I do the best I can do to help them.”
For the second year in a row, Delta Jr. High is employing teens from the northeast part of the parish. Thanks to the Eastern Morehouse tax, teens who graduated this year can participate in the Summer Work Program.
“They’ve been cutting down trees, cleaning out storage areas and doing lawn care,” said District 2 school board member Louis Melton. “We want them to learn to do quality work by being dependable, punctual and working well with others.”
Evelyn Seay oversees the teenage girls who work at Delta.
“This is the first job that some of these kids have ever had,” she said. “They’re working hard and making extra money before they go off to college.”
2012 Bastrop High graduate Antonio Akins is working at Delta during the summer program. Like the rest of the teens there, he works at the school everyday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“This job makes you dedicated,” he said. “When Mr. Melton stopped me at graduation and asked if I wanted to work, I told him ‘yes.’”
“This job is getting me ready for the real world.”