BY THE other day, only 7,332 jobs for teen-agers had been confirmed in the District's summer jobs program. The Department of Employment Services had hoped to have 20,000 jobs available for the 60,000 young people in the city looking for work. But both private employers and government employers are falling far short of jobs they had pledged. If all pledges had been met, by now the city would have 17,222 jobs. But in the category of small private employers, for example, from whom the city had been expecting 565 jobs, only 15 jobs are now nailed down -- yes, 15. In the D.C. government, there were promises of 9,500 jobs, but by last week only 5,104 of them had been confirmed. p

The Greater Washington Board of Trade, which is in charge of hunting summer jobs in large companies, reports similarly unhappy results. Jerrily Kress, head of the board's summer jobs program, says only 1,853 jobs have been found in the District this year, as compared with 2,816 jobs found by this time last year. Throughout the whole region, the board has located 9,638 jobs; the comparable figures last year was 12,000.

The uncertainty of the economy is the prime reason employers offer for their reluctance to hire teen-agers. The board of trade reports a substantial drop in hiring by the construction companies, for instance. Hiring by fast-food outlets is reported to be down, too. Some employers are also complaining about the poor work done by some young people last year and about the controversy surrounding the District's summer jobs program in the past.

So things are tough all over. But with unemployment for black teen-agers near 50 percent in the District, the city cannot afford to have the summer job program fail. That would put bored, restless young people on the streets for almost three months. It would waste an opportunity to involve young people in the world of work and to teach some of them a trade. We hope that every employer who sees from his ledger that there is less money available for hiring young people this year will take a second look and will try to calculate the price of the experience and knowledge and dignity that a young person can gain from a summer job. 0:1500000073: