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    job-searchIn May 2011, Illinois unemployment rate was the same as the national average, that is to say 9.1 percent. However, if you are unemployed and young, your chances of finding employment in Illinois are much slimmer. The Illinois unemployment rate for teenagers is 25.8, 1.6 percent higher than the national average 24.2 percent. The situation is even worse for Illinois black teenagers, which have an unemployment rate of 47.7 percent and Illinois Hispanic teenagers, which have an unemployment rate of 26 percent. White teenagers had an unemployment rate of 24.7 percent.

    What is the cause of this rise in teen unemployment? Unfortunately the situation in Illinois mirrors the situation in the nation as a whole. According to Greg Rivara, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the reason is adults are being forced by into jobs they would have previously not accepted and that would have been open to teenagers in a better economy.

    The good news is the Illinois Department of Employment Security has created a program for teens looking to start work. The program is called Illinois Hire the Future. It started as a summer program for teens looking for a summer job and has now evolved in a year-round program for students.

    Benefits

    The Illinois Hire the Future program provides incentives to employers who give students a chance to start work. It provides employers with low cost workers while giving students a chance to develop their skills and get a feel of what the workforce requires from them.

    Requirements

    To qualify for Illinois Hire the Future you must be between 16 and 21, be attending school, have an 8th grade level in Math and reading, a tardy rate of 10 percent or lower and an attendance rate of 90 percent or higher. Openings are limited in the program, so participants will be elected based on their academic performance, attendance records and the recommendation of principals and counselors.

    Employers are required to pay minimum wage. How long they decide to employ you or if they decide to pay your more than minimum wage is up to each employer.

    Other opportunities for young Illinois workers are the Illinois Department of Employment Security Apprenticeship Training program and the Illinois WorkNet Centers. For more information on these programs click on this link.

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