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In search for teen jobs, Walsh becomes telemarketer-in-chief

Mayor, top staff work phones, calling companies in search of summer jobs for 12,000 Boston teenagers

With youth unemployment near record levels in Massachusetts and the nation, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and top officials of his administration took a half hour on Monday to call about 70 Boston area companies to ask them to offer summer jobs to the city’s youth. The mayor, due to give his first speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, personally cold-called 12 companies. It’s unclear how many commitments or summer jobs the effort will generate since about 95 percent of the calls went to voice mail, a spokeswoman said, but the administration will follow up.

Walsh has set a goal of finding jobs for 12,000 teenagers this summer, aiming to beat the record of 10,000 jobs set last summer by his predecessor, Thomas M. Menino.

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Nearly five years after the recession ended, the unemployment rate among teens nationwide remains above 20 percent, compared with less than 7 percent for all workers. A recent report by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, found that the percentage of working teens in the United States has plunged by nearly half, to just under 25 percent in 2011 from 44 percent in 2000.

In Boston, just 1 in 3 teens have jobs. A big problem for young people, economists say, is a weak job market forcing many older workers to take lower-paying jobs once done by teens.

Economists say summer and part-time jobs play an important role for teens and the broader labor market because they can provide the experiences, skills, and sense of responsibility that help teens succeed during their working lives.

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at mwoolhouse@globe.com.
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