Teens Aren’t Getting Summer Jobs Anymore Because They’re Too Busy Studying

Image courtesy of Chris Rief

It was once a rite of passage for American teenagers: Spend the summer slinging burgers, watching over the frolicking kids at the local pools, hawking apparel at the mall, or babysitting for the neighbor in order to earn a few bucks. But it turns out that fewer teens are taking part in the tradition of obtaining a summer job, despite an apparent plethora of opportunities to do so. 

Bloomberg reports that many American teens aren’t looking for jobs this summer, and they haven’t been looking for seasonal gigs for a few years now.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teens are more likely to be working in July — when school and many sports are out of session — but employment rates among teens during that month have decreased significantly in recent years.

For instance, in July 2016 43% of teens ages 16 to 19 were either working or looking for jobs, a 10% decrease from a decade before.

While the recent stats show that close to half of teens are in the workforce during the summer, the figures are significantly lower than previous generations of teens: 70% of teens had jobs in July in 1988 and 1989.

So why aren’t today’s teens working? Bloomberg notes several theories, including that they can’t find job, have been pushed out by older workers and immigrants, or simply don’t think the money is worth it.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has another theory entirely: Students are being students instead of workers, spending their summers studying.

Many students aren’t getting out of school until later in the year, others are attending summer school to make up for failed classes, and some have already enrolled in college classes.

In fact, in July 2016 two in five teens age 16 to 19 were enrolled in school, four times the rate of students in 1985.

While taking summer classes and focusing on tougher courses during the warmer months might benefit a student when it comes to continuing their education, skipping a summer job could create some disadvantages, Bloomberg notes.

For instance, teens with summer jobs gain real-world experience when it comes to managing money, working with others, and time management.

What was your favorite summer job as a teen? Share your story: Send an email to tips@consumerist.com with the subject “Summer Jobs.”