Teenage Employment Is Making a Comeback

Rate is rising after decades of decline
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2024 5:45 PM CDT
Teen Employment Rate Is Rising After Decades of Decline
Analysts say people between 16 and 24 saw an average pay rise of nearly 10% last year.   (Getty Images/Darwin Brandis)

Teen jobs are making a comeback. A decades-long decline in teen employment that accelerated after the turn of the century is being reversed by Generation Z, and the share of teens working or looking for work recently hit a 14-year high of 38%, Axios reports. That's still a long way down from the 1970s and '80s, when almost 60% of teens were working or seeking work, but employers will soon add around 1.3 million summer jobs for young people, according to career placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

  • Why the rate is rising. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, more teens are working because young workers' pay is rising faster than that of other age groups, and employment issues abound. And the teens need the money. Some teen workers interviewed by the Washington Post earlier this year said they needed to help their families cover rent and other expenses. Others said inflation was making it harder to afford things like car insurance or outings with friends.

  • A rite of passage? "There is something lost when there are more young people who enter the workforce after college with no work experience," says Jean Twenge, author of the book Generations, per Axios. "When they learn those lessons about how important it is to show up on time and do a good job and sometimes you have to listen to the boss, all of it builds conscientiousness for later in life."
  • The downside. The Post reports that studies have shown teens who work while they're in high school are at higher risk of having lower grades and/or dropping out. The post-pandemic staff shortages that have contributed to the rise in teen employment have also led to pressure from employers to work longer hours.
(More employment stories.)

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