Why Don’t American Teenagers Get Summer Jobs Anymore?

This summer American teenagers should find it a little easier to get a job–if they want one. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in May, the lowest in 16 years, so teens started looking for summer jobs in the best labor market since the tech boom of the early 2000s. But the unemployment rate measures joblessness only among people who are actively looking for work. And many American teens aren’t. For Baby Boomers and Generation X, the summer job was a rite of passage. Today’s teenagers have other priorities. In July of last year, 43 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds were either working or looking for a job. That’s 10 points lower than in July 2006. In 1988 and 1989, the July labor force participation rate for teenagers nearly hit 70 percent.

Why aren’t teens working? Lots of theories have been offered: They’re being crowded out of the workforce by older Americans, now working past 65 at the highest rates in more than 50 years. Immigrants are competing with teens for jobs; a 2012 study found that less educated immigrants affected employment for U.S. native-born teenagers far more than for native-born adults. Parents are pushing kids to volunteer and sign up for extracurricular activities instead of working, to impress college admission counselors. College-bound teens aren’t looking for work because the money doesn’t go as far as it used to. “Teen earnings are low and pay little toward the costs of college,” the BLS noted this year. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Elite private universities charge tuition of more than $50,000.

Why do you think teens this day and age are not rushing to work in the Summer? Are you having the same issues with your teenagers? Tune into The John Gibson Show at 2pm ET and give us a call at 888-788-9910!

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