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WSJ: Teen Jobs Disappearing, Threatening a Rite of Passage for Some

WSJ: Teen Jobs Disappearing, Threatening a Rite of Passage for Some
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Wednesday, 24 May 2017 12:52 PM

As retail store closings rise this year to levels last seen during the Great Recession, teenagers are missing a historically significant source of employment.

“The trend is setting off alarm bells for many who believe that teens are missing out on opportunities to learn the soft skills needed for their adult careers,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “The rate of teen participation in the labor force during the month of July peaked in 1978 at 72%, falling to 43% last year.”

The long-term decline in teen participation in the work force is attributed to increased enrollment in summer school and a greater emphasis on extracurricular activities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Others blame minimum wage laws for raising the price of unskilled labor. A Congressional Budget Office report in February 2014 found that minimum wage hikes disproportionately hurt teen workers more than people age 25 and older.

“The general consensus of decades of minimum wage studies is that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage reduces teen employment by 1 percent to 3 percent because the higher wage incentivizes employers to hire older applicants with more job skills and a work history over young workers with no skills or work history,” according to the right-leaning Washington Policy Center, citing an OECD study.

Retail jobs, which typically made up 25% of teenage employment, are harder to find this summer in some regions. Those jobs may not return until the back-to-school season, when retail sales traditionally pick up, the WSJ reported, citing a forecast from outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc.

“Even with the recent gains, though, teen employment is a shadow of its former self,” Challenger said in a report last month. “The latest figures are well below the employment levels of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when it was common to see 7.0 million to 8.5 million teenagers employed at the peak of the summer job surge. In 1978, more than 10 million teenaged Baby Boomers were working in July.”

Young job seekers who can’t find work at a summer camp or as a lifeguard should consider applying for jobs at supermarkets or smaller mom-and-pop stores, said Nancy Snyder, chief executive of Commonwealth Corp., a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that helps find employment for teens.

“Main Street businesses’ hiring practices change with the economy,” she told the WSJ. “During the recession, they could hire more adults and probably did so. As the economy has recovered and the labor market has tightened, they are having a harder time finding adults and, therefore, more open to hiring teens.”

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As retail store closings rise this year to levels last seen during the Great Recession, teenagers are missing a historically significant source of employment."The trend is setting off alarm bells for many who believe that teens are missing out on opportunities to learn the...
teenager, job, unemployment, retail
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2017-52-24
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 12:52 PM
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