That rite of passage: the teen summer job is disappearing. We’ll ask why and probe the costs beyond the missing paycheck.
Time was when American teens worked in the summer. Summer jobs. More than 70 percent flipping burgers, mowing lawns, scooping ice cream, swinging hammers. These days, far fewer teens have summer jobs. Less than half. It’s partly that other people do those jobs now. Immigrants. Older Americans. But it’s also that cultural norms have changed. It’s internships now. Summer school. Enrichment. This hour On point: What it means when far fewer teens work summer jobs. — Tom Ashbrook
Stephanie Hightower, president and CEO of the Columbus Urban League, a nonprofit where she runs a summer jobs program for youth.
From Tom’s Reading List
TIME: Where Did America’s Summer Jobs Go? — “It’s not like the jobs aren’t there. The ice cream still needs scooping. A Tilt-a-Whirl doesn’t run itself. And that floppy, weirdly heavy rubber frog that somersaults toward the rotating lily pads? Hit or miss, someone’s got to bring it back to the catapult for the next lucky player. The work of an American summer remains, sticky and sweet as cotton candy, which doesn’t sell itself either.”
The Atlantic: Teenagers Have Stopped Getting Summer Jobs—Why? –“The summer job is considered a rite of passage for the American Teenager. It is a time when tossing newspaper bundles and bussing restaurant tables acts as a rehearsal for weightier adult responsibilities, like bundling investments and bussing dinner-party plates. But in the last few decades, the summer job has been disappearing. In the summer of 1978, 60 percent of teens were working or looking for work. Last summer, just 35 percent were.”
Washington Post: A lazy summer for teenagers: Why aren’t more of them working? — “As high schools across the country finish up their academic year and teenagers get ready for the summer, there is one thing many of them won’t be doing over the next few months: working at a job. The number of teenagers who have some sort of job while in school has dropped from nearly 40 percent in 1991, when I graduated from high school, to less than 20 percent today, an all-time low since the United States started keeping track in 1948.”
Your Summer Job Stories
“Worked in a drug store, a photo processing lab, a waitress and a record store all throughout college and even when I got my first job after college (sometimes one job but sometimes two-three jobs at a time)” — Lori on Facebook
“Three years delivering Milwaukee Journal (year round). Then ice cream vendor. Then baling hay. Summers while in college, concrete/masonry laborer. Have always felt more comfortable working than not.” — Jim on Facebook
“Farm work every summer starting at age 14; paid most of my college cost. Now friends who run small businesses or farms tell me that kids aren’t interested in ‘real work,’ and of course, the cost of college is out of sight.” — Steven on Facebook