The past decade and a half have proven to be very difficult for the youth. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that work rates for teenagers fell during the recession and have not had much recovery since that point. Over 40 percent of teens worked during the summer of 2007. In contrast, this year less than a third of teens were able to work at all. Although the recession explains the recent decline in employment for teens, there are a lot of long term elements that are also a factor. From the period of the mid 1960s to the late 1980s, around 55 percent and 60 percent of teens that were aged 16 to 19 years old were working in almost any given summer. The rate only fell slightly during the 1990s before starting to fall more significantly during the 2000s.
It has been said that the amount of decline in youth employment is actually part of a shift in patterns. Americans are entering the workforce much later and then staying in it longer than they used to. During a decade ago, a 16 or 17 year old boy was considered twice as likely to have a a job as his 70 year old grandfather. Now, the grandfather is more likely to have a job than the young boy. For young adults, the high rates of college attendance seems to be a large part of the circumstances. However, that’s less of a consideration for the youth who are still in high school. Some high school students may also be opting out of working so that they can focus on doing extra-curricular activities to improve their chances of getting into college. However, the decline in employment has been found to be most common among youth from low income families instead of the middle class.
One professor says that the declining rates of youth employment greatly reflects the weakness of the employment market since the early 2000s. Many employers prefer to have experienced workers when they can find them available, so the youth tend to miss out on opportunities in comparison to those who are older than them, such as the elderly. This is regardless of whether the economy is at a downturn or recovering. It naturally puts youth at a disadvantage. Studies have shown that youth employment is very important towards personal development. Those who work as teens are more likely to work as adults, graduate, and not have issues with the law. It’s important for them to be able to work while they are attending school, because it almost ensures that they’ll be working after they finish school.
In consideration of the amount of competition that exists for youth who are seeking employment, the best option to consider is to get youth involved with educational programs that can provide them with experience during school. This way, while they are going to school, they will have some relevant work experience that may be able to help them to get a steady job in the meantime.