Andrew Sum of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston predicts that teen summer employment is going to fall to the lowest rate in the 60 year history of government jobs data. That’s down from 45% in 2000, and a high of 48.5% in 1989.
The reasons for this tightening of the teen summer job market are varied. Because of weakness in the economy, more adults (including unemployed college graduates, older workers, former welfare recipients, illegal immigrants, and working adults seeking second jobs) are competing for low-skilled, hourly posts. The proportion of jobless teens actively looking and available for paying jobs last summer, at 17.1% was nearly four times that of adults (Wall St. Journal, 4/23/08).
Idle children are not in the best interests of family, neighborhoods, or society. That amount of non-focused adolescent energy needs a constructive outlet. Individuals as well as businesses all should take on the responsibility of providing at least some sort of hourly work during the summertime for teens; this would provide them structured time, financial compensation, skill building, exercise of the mind and body or both, increased self-esteem, and experiences of a more positive nature than they’d probably have without the work.
Another outlet for teens is to come up with some business concept of their own, wherein they provide a service for a business or homeowner. Once concept, described by the founder of Teens4Hire.org, an employment website, was her suggestion to a panhandling skateboarded to start his own business collecting household hazardous waste for recycling. He made $700 hauling paint cans, oil, and other items to a recycling center at $3 per item. Teens can also do grocery shopping or other chores for the elderly or housebound or just darn busy folks – there are lots of ideas just waiting to be brought to life.