What Has Become of Summer Jobs for Teens?

Photo (cc) by ibm4381

Fewer teens are spending their summer earning a paycheck. Once a rite of passage, teenage summer jobs seem to be going by the wayside.

According to a new report from Pew Research Center, teen summer employment has plummeted in the past 25 years. While the majority of teens in the 1970s and ’80s worked at least part of their summer vacation, less than a third of today’s teens find summer work.

The data on teen jobs, which goes back to 1948, shows that their rate of summer employment typically would rise and fall alongside the economy — fluctuating between a peak of 58 percent in 1978 and a low of 46 percent in 1963. But the number started to decline in the early 1990s.

Teen summer employment fell sharply after the 2001 recession and the Great Recession, bottoming out at 29.6 percent in 2010 and 2011, Pew said. Since then, it’s barely recovered. Last summer’s teen employment rate was just 31.6 percent.

So, why aren’t the majority of teens working?

“Researchers have advanced multiple explanations for why fewer young people are finding jobs: fewer low-skill, entry-level jobs than in decades past; more schools restarting before Labor Day; more students enrolled in high school or college over the summer; more teens doing unpaid community service work as part of their graduation requirements or to burnish their college applications; and more students taking unpaid internships,” Pew explained.

But the traditional summer job still has plenty of merits of its own.

“Gaining work experience is meaningful,” Bob Patterson, former Stanford University admissions director and vice president of the online college advising service Chegg, told Fortune. “Admission offices want to see commitment, leadership and initiative, and all three can be demonstrated in a low-skill job. You can show initiative by getting the job, commitment by sticking to it, and leadership by showing up early and staying late.”

Here are some highlights from Pew’s report:

  • White teens are the most likely group to be employed, especially during the summer. In 2014, the summer employment rate for 16- to 19-year-old whites was 34 percent, compared to 19.3 percent for black teens, 23 percent for Asians, and 25 percent for Hispanic teens.
  • Of the teens that worked last summer, about a third were employed in “accommodation and food services,” 22.5 percent worked in retail or wholesale trade, and 8.8 percent received employment in the arts/recreation/entertainment industry.
  • It’s more difficult for young teens to find jobs. Last summer, 20 percent of 16- to 17-year-olds secured summer jobs, compared to 43.6 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds.

I also wonder if some teens simply don’t want to work, so they don’t.

When I was 14, I was shipped off to my aunt’s home in Washington for the summer to work as a nanny for my baby cousin. When I was 16, I began working at a local movie theater, a job I kept throughout high school.

My parents didn’t give me spending money, so if I wanted gas money for my car or cash to do things with my friends, I had to earn it. I will always be thankful for the work ethic my parents instilled in me.

Did you spend your teenage summers working? Share your experience in comments below or share this article on your Facebook page, and start a conversation!

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Want a Healthy Retirement? Turn This Device Off
Want a Healthy Retirement? Turn This Device Off

A common behavior becomes increasingly dangerous for those who are 50 or older.

Don’t Pay for These 10 Things: They Are Free With a Library Card
Don’t Pay for These 10 Things: They Are Free With a Library Card

Before you spend another dollar on items and services like these, check with your public library.

7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security
7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security

To get the most out of your Social Security retirement benefits, you have to think ahead.

How Much of My Social Security Benefit Can My Ex Take From Me?
How Much of My Social Security Benefit Can My Ex Take From Me?

A man wonders if his ex-wife will siphon away his Social Security benefit.

5 Common Medical Expenses That Medicare Won’t Pay For
5 Common Medical Expenses That Medicare Won’t Pay For

Don’t let these health care costs catch you off guard in retirement.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

Why Cloth Masks May Increase Your Coronavirus Risk
Why Cloth Masks May Increase Your Coronavirus Risk

A new study finds that wearing a cloth mask can backfire if you don’t clean it properly.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car
This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car

Looking for a good deal on a set of wheels? This should be your first stop.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value
7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value

You can add value to your home without hiring a contractor to do expensive renovations.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.