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By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Teens can be big spenders, but not if they don’t have the cash.

Teen employment has improved over last summer, but the landscape for summer work is still pretty bleak. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teen unemployment remains three times the national average.

At amusement parks across the nation for example, applications for summer employment are up over last year, and not just from teens.

“Going through the whole last past four or five years of the economy, definitely the whole applicant flow has been up, with people picking up second jobs or retirees supplementing their income or kids still looking for their first job out there,” says Cutter Matlock of Six Flags America.

Facing competition from older adults, teens have to play up other strengths. Nadia Conyers, a youth employment coordinator, says, “Where teens may not have the actual work experience, they have the drive. They have the energy. They’re technologically savvy.”

They also might have to forge their own path. Conyers says, “Cut out the middleman. Dog sitting, babysitting–those types of jobs are definitely ones that students can have. Teenagers can definitely get.”

Fewer than three in 10 American teenagers now hold a summer job, the lowest level since World War II.

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