The summer before my senior year of high school, I got my first summer job at the Lakewood Gottschalks. I felt so grown-up. I got a real paycheck that I got to deposit in my OWN bank account. I wore a nametag. And I sold about a zillion pairs of shoes.
Turns out it’s a good thing that I got that job many, many years ago because summer jobs are no longer the norm.
According to The Associated Press, fewer than three in 10 American teens now hold summer jobs. The trend has been on the decline since 2000, with employment for 16- to 19-year-olds at its lowest level since World War II.
Washington state is likely to have the fourth highest number of teens looking for jobs but unable to find them, behind Washington D.C., Arizona and California. Teens are more likely to find work in Wyoming, North Dakota and Oklahoma.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests teen employment may never return to pre-recession levels.
Several factors can be attributed to the decline: many teens are spending the summer taking classes, attending camps or participating in other college-related activities; and adults are filling more lower-skilled jobs as they struggle to find work in a shaky economy.
According to the story:
Economists say teens who aren’t getting jobs are often those who could use them the most. Many are not moving on to more education.
“For young high school graduates or dropouts, their early work experience is more closely tied to their success in the labor market,” said Harry Holzer, labor economist and public policy professor at Georgetown University. He said the income gap between rich and poor is exacerbated when lower-income youths who are less likely to enroll in college are unable to get skills and training.
About 5.1 million, or just 29.6 percent, of 16- to 19-year-olds were employed last summer, compared to 1978, when nearly 60 percent of teens held jobs. Teen employment remained generally above 50 percent until 2001.