Teenagers aren’t working hard for the money this summer.
Only 49% of teens age 16 to 19 were working in June – the lowest in the 70 years the U.S. Labor Department has kept records. That was down from 52% in June 2006 and below the 60% in the labor force in June 2000.
That’s a significant decline – 11% in seven years. What’s happened to today’s youth? The answer might surprise you.
Today’s teenagers are studying. Yes, studying.
Nearly 38% of teens ages 16 to 19 were enrolled in summer school or college courses instead of working, according to the Labor Department. They are investing in their future earning potential by dedicating 12-months a year to their education.
This is a change from 20 years ago when only 12% of working-age teenagers were spending their summer months studying.
My own experiences as a teenager in the late 1980s included balancing both work and school. Every summer after I graduated from high school I took two community college classes. Plus, as an 18- and 19-year old, I had a job working 30 hours a week so I could sock away as much money as possible for school in the fall.
Those were some of the best days of my life. The combination of balancing school, work and play taught me some important lessons regarding prioritization, and time management. Somehow I think today’s teens who are opting out of the summer workforce might be missing out on some of life’s important lessons.