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Home>UPDATE: What's keeping teenagers unemployed? Online personality tests

UPDATE: What's keeping teenagers unemployed? Online personality tests

UPDATE: What's keeping teenagers unemployed? Online personality tests


By Jillian Berman

A new report highlights how hiring practices make it more difficult for teens to get jobs

It seems relatively rare these days to encounter a teenager who spends his or her summer or after-school hours busing tables or working a cash register. And while many have blamed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-teen-unemployment-rate-is-the-lowest-its-been-in-years-why-thats-both-good-and-bad-2017-08-04) increasing interest in internships or declining work ethic among today's young people for this trend, a new report points to a different culprit: A dramatic shift in the way employers screen entry-level applicants.

Unemployment among teenagers aged 16 to 19 years was 13.6% in August 2017, up from 13.2% the previous month, but down from 15.6% a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cpseea10.htm). That compares to an overall unemployment rate of 4.4% in August 2017 (https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000).

Where once teenagers or early 20-somethings may have wandered into their local supermarket and applied for their first job, now a substantial share of employers (https://www.wsj.com/articles/are-workplace-personality-tests-fair-1412044257) are using online personality assessments to gauge the skill and character of potential dishwashers, burger-flippers and other entry-level jobs.

Personality tests put young job seekers at a disadvantage

That's putting young job seekers at a disadvantage, according to a report released Wednesday (http://www.jobsfirstnyc.org/uploads/JFNYCOJAReportFINAL_DIGITAL9.18.17.pdf) by JobsFirstNYC, a New York City-based nonprofit that advocates for out-of-school and out-of-work young adults. The report is based on an experiment, which asked 18 to 22-year-olds to submit applications to 42 major employers in the New York City area in 2012 and 2014.

The authors found that tests were so extensive -- in some cases 200 questions -- that they discouraged young people from applying or made it difficult for them to complete the applications, a problem that was particularly acute for low-income young people who may not have regular access to the internet. Young adults may struggle more than older applicants to answer some of the questions because their brain and personality development isn't complete, they added.

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