Teen unemployment is the worst it has ever been since measurement began.
Three things from government could help this - two in particular. And a fourth, but the fourth is for parents.
First, the general help: lower taxes, less regulation, more opportunity. A rising tide lifts all boats. Help the economy generally, and more teens will be able to work.
Second, lower the minimum wage. Employers need to make more from an employee than they spend on an employee in order for that employee to be an asset. If you have to pay someone $8 an hour (plus the extra costs of payroll tax, benefits, training, recruiting - it all adds up to about double the hourly rate for a full-time permanent employee), then you need that employee to provide at least that amount of work. Otherwise, you are better off not hiring. Most teens have no skills, experience, or proven work ethic. Many do a job for a few months, then either quit or are fired for lack of output. That costs employers a lot of money and makes hiring a teenager a big gamble. When minimum wage gets too high, employers will either work existing staff overtime, be very selective and hire only experienced adults, or make do without. Teens get the shaft. Lower the minimum wage, and employers can take more of a gamble, hire teens, and invest more time and money in training and coaching them to improve. That means teens get experience, which allows them to compete for better paying jobs. And working for $5 an hour when you are broke is better than not working for $8 an hour. The unemployed should be grateful to work for small pay rather than expecting a right to work for more pay.
Third, CONTROL ILLEGAL ALIENS IN THE WORK FORCE. Quit giving me the crap about "jobs no American will do." National unemployment is about 10%, and unemployment for teens is about 25%. That's an awful damn lot of people who would be happy to pick lettuce or vacuum motels. It used to be normal for a lot of those low wage service and agricultural jobs to be filled by American teens. Now, there are an awful lot of people doing those jobs illegally. This, of course, ties back to the previous point: if you are hiring illegal aliens and paying cash under the table, you can pay below minimum wage and no one will know - except the person who is happy to work for $5 an hour out in the field. Crack down on the employers, while at the same time lowering the minimum wage, and see our teens take on all those jobs instead of illegal aliens.
Finally, the parents need to step in and instill a work ethic in kids. Too many kids these days never have to work to earn spending money. Parents give kids everything. Kids think the world owes them a living. When they leave school and need to look for work, they find out work is hard and they don't want to do it. So they do a half-assed job - if they do a job at all - and end up either quitting or fired. They never gain useful experience, so they can never compete for anything other than the most menial tasks - and many of these sorts of jobs, at restaurants, trendy stores in shopping malls, etc., are among the first to dry up in a recession. Parents: give your kids a good swift kick in the ass, make them earn their keep, and teach them that no one owes them diddly squat.
Meanwhile, I hope all these unemployed teens, many of whom voted for Obama (if they voted at all), learn a thing or two about reality.