Just 36 percent of 16-to 19-year-olds will hold jobs this summer, according to Drexel University’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy. That’s up slightly from last year, but it represents a steep decline from 52 percent at the start of the century.
In addition to preventing teens from earning money, the downturn in teen employment also means young people are missing an opportunity to acquire soft skills that could prove valuable later in life — research suggests that people who work as teens earn more and have more stable job histories as adults.
Experts like Paul Harrington, the center’s director, attribute the decline to a more competitive job market and busier teens.
The retail sector, traditionally a sector that employs lots of teens, has been hit hard by store closures, meaning fewer jobs for young people. Additionally, a growing number of people older than 65 are staying in the labor force. Close to 27 percent of people aged 65 to 74 are still working, a 50 percent increase from 20 years ago.
Meanwhile, some teens are eschewing summer jobs in favor of academic and volunteer opportunities that will boost their credentials for college admission.
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch