For quite some time, and still today, the market was looking very rough for teens. The number of jobs available to them was dwindling and for the jobs that were available they had to compete with older, more experienced workers. There was a big pull to make more positions available to teens and to ensure that internships were there for them so they could gain important work experience. Now it seems as though there are plenty more jobs out there for teenagers, but they don’t want to work.
Statistics show that since 1994, the teenage workforce over the summer has been steadily dwindling down to almost nothing. More and more teenagers have lost their interest in finding a summer job, even when there are more out there for them. A report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas shows that the number of teens hired in the month of May this year is nearly double the number of teens hired in May of 2011. Specifically, 160,000 teens were hired May 2011 and only 71,000 were hired in May of 2011. When you compare these numbers to the ever-low 6,000 that were hired in May of 2010, you can see that improvements have definitely been made over the past couple of years.
However great these statistics may be, it doesn’t matter much since teens aren’t really interested in finding summer jobs. Both last summer and the summer before, less than 30 percent of teens that could work, were actually working. When you compare the statistics from the 1990’s up to 2000 where more than 50 percent of this group was working, you can see the difference clearly. More teens were working in those earlier years than now. While we can blame this pretty heavily on the weak job market and the recession we faced, we can’t put all the blame there. Especially when statistics show that the jobs are there for them.
So where else can we point the finger? Perhaps at the teens themselves. In a survey conducted by the BLS, most teens stated that they simply “did not want to work.” Furthermore, the teens that would benefit most from finding a job are the least likely to actually go out and try to find one. According to a report from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, only 1 out of every 5 teens from low income families had a job last summer. Conversely, teens coming from families with an income between the $100K-$150K range were most likely to have a job over the summer. Last summer, 41 percent of these teens were working.
Another reason why so many teens are skipping the summer job tradition is because they would rather work an unpaid internship than a seemingly meaningless, minimum wage job. If this is the case, then it’s not that teens are sitting around doing nothing over the summer; they are actually gaining valuable work experience. In an article published by Spark News a while back, we discussed how a lot of high school juniors and seniors were deciding to prepare for college over the summer instead of work to earn extra money. In this case, teens are taking the initiative and preparing for the near future.
However, if it’s the former rather than the latter- that teens simply don’t want to work- then it has big implications for their future as well as ours. Already dubbed an entitled and spoiled group, these teens or millennials will do even more damage to how they are viewed. Many already believe that this group lacks the necessary discipline and work ethic needed to succeed and drive our country. Many also state that they lack the respect and understanding needed to deal with customers and work under bosses and managers.
What do you think of teens and the summer job market? Is it that they don’t want to work or that they simply can’t find work? Let me know what you think in the comments section or tweet me @nicole_spark.