Sum­mer jobs for teens make slight come­back

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - Ann Car­rns ©2018 The New York Times

The share of teenagers work­ing sum­mer jobs had dwin­dled for years, but the num­bers have come back a bit in the last cou­ple of years.

The share of teenagers work­ing sum­mer jobs had dwin­dled for years, but the num­bers have come back a bit in the last cou­ple of years. It is a change ap­plauded by ed­u­ca­tors and fi­nan­cial ad­vis­ers alike.

“Sum­mer jobs are a great idea,” said Laura Levine, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Jump­Start Coali­tion, a non­profit group that pro­motes fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy. “Money man­age­ment be­gins with how to get that money in the first place.”

This year, hir­ing of teenagers got off to a strong start in May, al­though the pace slowed slightly in June com­pared with last year. Still, the com­bined to­tal of about 1.08 million jobs added for those two months is above av­er­age for the past decade, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis of fed­eral data by the out­place­ment firm Chal­lenger, Gray & Christ­mas.

An­drew Chal­lenger, the firm’s vice pres­i­dent, said the longer-term trend away from sum­mer jobs does not mean young peo­ple are lazy. “Teens are still busy,” he said. They are do­ing things like vol­un­teer­ing in hur­ri­cane-stricken ar­eas, tak­ing ex­tra classes or honing their sports skills to bur­nish their col­lege ap­pli­ca­tions. They may be mak­ing a cal­cu­la­tion, he said, that such ex­pe­ri­ences make more of an im­pres­sion on col­lege ad­mis­sions staff than a sum­mer job scoop­ing ice cream.

Whether they are work­ing to help sup­port their fam­i­lies, sav­ing for col­lege or building a fund for some other goal, young work­ers should have a plan for the money they earn, Levine said. Earn­ing a steady pay­check for the first time can make teenagers feel “cash rich” and lead to over­spend­ing, she said. “It can dis­ap­pear quickly.”

De­cid­ing ahead of time to put a cer­tain amount into sav­ings and spend a small amount on en­ter­tain­ment makes teenagers less likely to squan­der their earn­ings, she said.

Even though the over­all un­em­ploy­ment rate has fallen amid a stronger econ­omy, teenagers can have a hard time find­ing tem­po­rary sum­mer jobs.

The re­tail in­dus­try, for in­stance, a tra­di­tional place for teenagers to land sum­mer work, is shift­ing away from brick-and-mor­tar stores and to­ward on­line sales, Chal­lenger said.

Levine said, “Even when the job mar­ket is good, it does take dili­gence, and a will­ing­ness to be flex­i­ble.” That may mean tak­ing a job that is not a first choice. But a job means money and of­fers ex­pe­ri­ence deal­ing with bosses, co-work­ers and cus­tomers.

In parts of the coun­try where stu­dents will re­turn to school in mid-Au­gust, much of the sum­mer is al­ready gone and em­ploy­ers may not be as ea­ger to hire as they were in the spring. But of­ten, en­try-level jobs suit­able for teenagers have high turnover.

What about hav­ing a job dur­ing the school year? Fine, as long as you don’t overdo it. There is a link be­tween in­tense school-year em­ploy­ment — 20 or more hours a week — and the risk of drop­ping out, said Jeremy Staff, a Penn State so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor.


A young cashier helps a woman with her pur­chase of toys. This year, the hir­ing of teenagers for sum­mer work got off to a strong start, with 1.08 million jobs added in the months of May and June.

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