I believe that teens are having a tough time finding summer work because so many more adults are marginally attached to the labor force; participating in part-time jobs that in the past were filled by unskilled teenagers.From April to July 2011, the number of employed youth 16 to 24 years old rose by 1.7 million to 18.6 million, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This year, the share of young people who were employed in July was 48.8 percent, the lowest July rate on record for the series, which began in 1948. (The month of July typically is the summertime peak in youth employment.) Unemployment among youth increased by 745,000 between April and July, more than last year’s increase of 571,000, but well below the levels seen in 2008 and 2009 (1.2 and 1.1 million, respectively). (Because this analysis focuses on the seasonal changes in youth employment and unemployment that occur each spring and summer, the data are not seasonally adjusted.)
But its not just teens that are seeing shrinking percentage of work-force participation... The overall labor pool today has a much smaller percentage of adults working than what it did just 5 or 10 years ago.