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Teens face bleak summer job market as unemployment surges

 Governor Bill Lee’s April 20th announcement on gradually opening all businesses made Tennesseans wonder if this early opening of businesses will result in an increase of COVID-19 cases. Governor Lee has released a plan called “Tennessee Pledge” describing the ways businesses should conduct safer practices when interacting with customers. This plan includes limiting the amount of people allowed in the business, reducing hours for cleaning purposes, enforcing protective wear, and restricting any reusable products. Although most businesses have implemented and utilized this plan, many businesses still feel the reopening of the Tennessee economy could still potentially put their customers and employees in danger of being infected.

Businesses that rely heavily on their dine-in option have especially felt the economic effects of “social distancing”. EL Vallarta Mexican Restaurant in McKenzie, TN has demonstrated their concerns for the reopening of businesses by halting their dine-in option for another two weeks after Bill Lee’s public announcement of reopening. The manager of the Mexican restaurant, Miguel Vega, expressed that the number one priority for the restaurant is their employees’ and customers’ health and safety. Instead the restaurant has continued to only serve take-out.

 Restaurants that relied on take-out before quarantine, who may be expected to increase in sales during COVID-19 quarantine have actually, stayed “flat” as described by Bryan Strop, owner of the Cornerstore Eatery in Huntingdon, TN. Strop was hopeful of the reopening of the Tennessee economy, and the possibility of increasing sales with the gradual decline of “social distancing”. 

The reopening of the economy, means there are more opportunities for teens to get summer jobs.

 “Getting a summer job before quarantine was not difficult for teens, but with COVID-19 distancing policies the atmosphere for job searching has changed, “said Landon Carter, a junior at Huntingdon High School and employee at Wendy’s.

“If everyone does their part with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, the spread of the virus should decrease.” Only time will tell if reopening the economy will lead to an increase of cases. With unemployment reaching record levels, many feel that reopening Tennessee is the only option to avoid further economic devastation, which carries it’s own health risk.

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