Summer jobs for teens—are they a thing of the past? Show Notes

Thursday, June 07, 2012 Host(s): Dr. Bill Maier
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What happened to teenagers getting a summer job?

Once upon a time a summer job was a rite of passage for American teens, whether it was bagging groceries, working at a fast-food restaurant, or some other entry-level position.

But times have changed. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 25% of 16- to 19-year-olds are working. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, a full 40 to 50 percent of teens held full-time or part time jobs.  

The report doesn’t mention whether teens aren’t working due to a lack of jobs in the current economy, or if they’re simply choosing not to work.   My guess is that it’s a combination of the two.

When I was a teenager and college student, I held a variety of part-time jobs during the school year and often had a full-time job during the summer months. Although some of those jobs weren’t exactly “fun,” they did teach me responsibility and the value of hard work. 

They also introduced me to the real-life working world, where I learned about employment interviews, dealing with supervisors, and getting along with co-workers.

If you have teenagers and they’ve never worked outside the home, this summer might be a good time to encourage them to get started. There’s an online resource they can check out, that has tips on interviewing and info on summer job opportunities. It’s called quintessential careers. For the teen portion of the site, go to

I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.

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