More than 7 in 10 teens can't find summer jobs
Washington— Once a rite of passage to adulthood, summer jobs for teens are disappearing.
Fewer than three in 10 American teenagers now hold jobs such as running cash registers, mowing lawns or busing restaurant tables from June to August. The decline has been particularly sharp since 2000, with employment for 16- to 19-year-olds falling to the lowest level since World War II.
And teen employment may never return to pre-recession levels, suggests a projection by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The drop in teen employment, steeper than for other age groups, is partly a cultural shift. More youths are spending summer months in school, at music or learning camps or in other activities geared for college. But the decline is especially troubling for teens for whom college may be out of reach,leaving them increasingly idle and with few options to earn wages and job experience. [Increase in crime a danger?]
Older workers, immigrants and debt-laden college graduates are taking away lower-skill work as they struggle to find their own jobs in the weak economy. Upper-income white teens are three times as likely to have summer jobs as poor black teens, sometimes capitalizing on their parents' social networks for help.
While increased schooling is a factor, much of the recent employment decline is due to increased competition from other age groups for entry-level jobs that teens normally would fill.
Smith, the Fed economist, attributes at least half of declining teen employment since the mid-1980s to youths who are being crowded out of the job market by older workers and immigrants, pointing to recent technological changes that have thinned the ranks of midlevel jobs such as bank teller and sales representative.
His working paper for the Federal Reserve points to "potentially troubling long-term consequences" to the extent that jobless teens are not utilizing their time to go to summer school or do other college-preparatory work. His analysis of government data found that jobless teens across all income groups were often spending the extra time watching TV, playing video games and sleeping rather than on educational activities.
Are Younger Millennials Becoming 'Lost'?
"It's tempting to look at the teen unemployment rate and sort of shrug and assume that ... the only consequence is that maybe the parents are giving [teenagers] money to go out to the movies this summer instead of the kids earning the money themselves," Saltsman says.
But working a summer job as a teen is not just about earning extra spending money. Saltsman says it's also about learning skills so you can become a good worker later in your adult life.
"The risk is that if [teenagers] miss out on [the summer job experience], they become part of this lost generation of teens who never had a chance to get a foothold to take that first step on that career ladder," Saltsman says.
While the lost paychecks are compiling every day, another, often unlooked component of this crisis is the lost opportunity for young people to create and develop a pool of skills for future employment.
Sugar Babies and the Need for Jobs
[Young women turning to prostitution because there are no other jobs available.]
Over the last few years, publications like Mother Jones and the New York Times magazine both have exposed us to the sugar daddy/baby phenomenon. Wealthy older men -- some married, some not -- plop their money down to entice young women to spend time with them, often with expectations of sexual activity.
However, as our economy has spiraled even further out of control, this activity is picking up steam.