Young workers will have to scramble to land jobs — even unpaid ones — this summer, but the employment outlook for them is still brighter than last year.

Young workers will have to scramble to land jobs — even unpaid ones — this summer, but the employment outlook for them is still brighter than last year.

"The economy generally is picking up," says Robert Trumble, a management professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. "If unemployment keeps inching down ... it increases opportunities for teens in the summer."

Last summer was the worst for young job-seekers since 1948, when the government began tracking the numbers. The unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds in July — usually the height of summer employment — was 19.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was even worse for minorities. The unemployment rate for young blacks, for instance, was nearly 34 percent.

This summer isn't expected to be as brutal, but teens are encouraged to start looking for work early. They again will face stiff competition for part-time and entry-level jobs.

"Teens are running into college students and running into adults who have been out of the work force," says Michael Erwin, senior career adviser with CareerBuilder.com. "They will have to be scrappy."

Teens across the country also may have less help finding work because federal stimulus money that funded youth job programs in the last two years is no longer available.

To counteract the loss of federal stimulus money, the Labor Department last week announced a campaign to encourage businesses to hire 100,000 young workers nationwide this summer. Banking giant Wells Fargo and Research In Motion, maker of the Blackberry, each promised to hire 1,000 young adults. UPS, the delivery company, committed to hire 1,500.

Still, 100,000 new jobs won't be enough to fill the demand. A teen's best bet is to start their search before the field is too crowded.

"Get moving now. Don't wait," says Trumble. Summer may seem far off to teens, but not to employers that plan ahead. And the more ambitious teens are already knocking on doors, Trumble says.