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The Sunshine Economy

The Sunshine Economy: On The Edge Of Adulthood

The teenagers who spent their summer with WLRN talk about what it's like to be facing adulthood.

    Becoming an adult holds the promise of new freedoms -- no curfew, driving, maybe living on your own -- but as everyone who has been a teenager knows, it comes with more responsibility, financial responsibilities in particular, whether you are ready or not.

For the first time, WLRN led a summer program teaching six high schoolers how to tell their own stories through sound. Working with them provided unique insights into what they’re thinking about their economic futures -- a future that is statistically challenging.

Shenika Morrison was one of the participants in the program and says she thinks about becoming an adult almost every day.

Listen to her thoughts on that transition:

Listen below to a conversation with high schoolers LajoyEiflaar, Shenika Morrison and Precious Gause about what they think “adulthood” means:

As you heard, money and not having enough of it is a big worry for these teenagers as they anticipate the challenges of adulthood and it that is certainly a valid concern.

Unemployment in Florida is at a post-recession low at 5.3 percent. And while the job market has gotten better for young workers, it remains in the double digits. Almost one in every five Florida teenagers who was available and wanted to work last year couldn’t find a job.

It’s one in eight for young adults aged 20 to 24.

Adding race into the mix and you begin to see big differences in employment though. Unemployment in Florida among 20 to 24 year old black people is more than 1.5 times higher than it is for white people and almost double the same rate for young adult Hispanic individuals.

In 2014, the unemployment rate for 20 to 24 year old Black Floridians was 14.7 percent.

This is the reality teenagers face as they inch toward high school graduation and making a choice between college or entering the job market. They also talk about being unsure if South Florida holds enough opportunity for their futures -- to find a good job, buy a home and start a family -- things that make an economy grow.

These teenagers are a small group of young people here, wrestling with their own identity, finding their place in their communities both big and small. You can listen to their stories where they explore a pieces of their world here: http://wlrnyouthradio.tumblr.com/.