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Teens who mine job market get lucky


Everyone needs money.

So says Jake Foppiano, 16, of Angels Camp, as he makes sure all cans face outward on the shelves of Angels Food Market.

Whether they're saving money for college, to move out of the family home or for car insurance, Foppiano and countless other teens have summer jobs or are out looking for them. Some are finding it difficult to land a job for the hot months, while others have been working since December or earlier.

Tuolumne County kids said it's sometimes a struggle to get a job, and many had to apply to at least two places before finding work.

"It was about a month of looking before I got a call back," said James Davis, 18, as he tore tickets at Signature Stadium 10 in Sonora.

In Calaveras County, however, teens seem to have no problem finding employment.

"All my friends work, and they've all had their jobs since winter, at least," said Robert Gallagher, 18, who has worked at Angels Food Market for more than a year.

In most cases, early starts are the key. People who wait until May or June usually find positions filled.

"It's pretty hard," said Joe Marx, 18, who has worked at Stuft Pizza in East Sonora for about four days. "Jobs these days are pretty slim."

Many of Marx's friends are still pounding the pavement. Most say they want to avoid the greasy stigma of working in fast food, but find few alternatives, Marx said.

One reason is that with unemployment rates at 7.6 percent in Calaveras County and 6.5 percent in Tuolumne County, teens are competing against people who need to provide livelihoods for their families.

"This is a labor market with a lot more unemployed people," said Penny Kesterson, Calaveras youth career counselor at Mother Lode Job Training, which has offices in Sonora and Angels Camp. "The teens have to compete with unemployed, experienced adults."

Kesterson offers seminars and training to teach kids how to land jobs they'll like.

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