Archive for Saturday, May 27, 1995

S JOB MARKET LOOKS GOOD FOR TEENS

May 27, 1995

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Kansas University's loss is a teen-age worker's gain.

As KU bids adieu to some 9,000 of its degree-seeking students, Lawrence teens are ready to fill the employment void, said Mike O'Donnell, director of KU's Small Business Development Center.

"The economy doesn't just die," O'Donnell said. "There's lots of activity, and when there's lots of activity, businesses are always looking for help.

"Lawrence has such a strong economy -- and things are doing so well here -- that there are lots of opportunities for kids."

The retail sector and seasonal summer work -- food service, clothing sales, lifeguarding, landscaping and lawn mowing -- remain the strongest prospects for enterprising teens, O'Donnell said.

Contrary to popular belief, retail sales in Lawrence don't fall off the scale when KU students leave town, O'Donnell said. Last July, such businesses took in $73.6 million in sales -- the third highest monthly total of the year.

Teens still should have plenty of opportunities to find work, particularly minimum-wage jobs in Lawrence's expanding commercial base.

"They may have to work a little bit, but they're out there," he said.

McDonald's, for example, recently opened two new restaurants in Lawrence.

Rick Searcy, manager of the new restaurant at the intersection of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive, is still accepting applications for all positions, with flexible schedules offering up to 40 hours of work each week.

Even the enviable job of the restaurant's Playland kid watcher -- "cleaning up, watching the kids, climbing up in the tubes to get the kids who don't want to come out" is open, he said. Five to 10 teens apply each week, but interest is increasing as the school year ends.

"They can pretty much pick up the hours they need," Searcy said.

Brandi Johnson, 16, a sophomore at Lawrence High School, will seek employment next month. She's applied for jobs before with no luck.

"I've never had a job, so I guess it's hard (to find one)," she said. "I'll do anything. Just pay me."

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