Youth unemployment is pretty darn bad, and that has many raising new eyebrows over America's long-running work-travel program. The State Department revamped the program this month following allegations of poor working conditions, ensuring that the 100,000 foreign students participating this year will work at "light, seasonal occupations" like lifeguarding, the Washington Post reports. The updates are also supposed to protect American workers' jobs by barring the foreigners from being employed by warehouses, factories, and the like. But some say the protections don't go far enough—and that America's youth should be the ones guarding our pools.
But one company owner insists that "a lot of young Americans just don't want to be lifeguards" these days, and that he has no choice but to rely on international labor. Managers at another company say US teens have longer school years and more activities that cut into the hours they can work. But some immigration experts think the real reason for hiring foreign students is that they're cheaper: Employers don't have to pay Social Security or Medicaid, can pay minimum wage, and get a tax break, to boot. (Read more State Department stories.)