Teens: No Job Wanted

Discussion
Apr 07, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


The number of teenagers working part-time jobs has fallen to its lowest level since such statistics started being tracked.


According to a report by USA Today, the percentage of kids between 16 and 19 working was 44 percent in 2004. The highest level of employment came in July when 54 percent of those in the age group had a job.


The reason for more kids not working outside the home is often attributed to the increased demands on their time posed by academic and extracurricular activities.


Surprisingly, those teens who would seem most in need of a job are not employed. USA Today concluded that the decrease in teenagers working “was much more pronounced among kids from families whose income ranks in the bottom quarter than those from the highest.”


Another reason given for fewer teenagers being employed in the workforce is that more adults, primarily in two groups – those without high school diplomas and senior citizens – are increasingly competing for the same jobs as teens.


Moderator’s Comment: How is the decrease in the percentage of teenage workers affecting the retailing and foodservice business? Do you see the trend
for fewer teens in the workforce as a positive or negative for the industry?

George Anderson – Moderator

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9 Comments on "Teens: No Job Wanted"


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Laurie Cozart
Guest
Laurie Cozart
15 years 10 months ago
Many excellent points have been made in regards to this topic. Over protective parents, more involvement in extra curricular activities, reduced dollars for payroll, seniors competing for jobs, are all contributing factors to the decrease in teen workers. I would also add the two additional thoughts. First, this generation is the “school is cool” generation. They truly value higher education and understand the fact that in order to be competitive in the future job market they must be well educated. Secondly, there are many restrictions on hiring underage teens, especially when those teens are still in high school, that could affect employers’ hiring decisions. High school teens are restricted on number of hours worked and how late the student can be scheduled. Most states require students to be off shift by 9-9:30 p.m. Most retail jobs, mall based or strip mall based, require a shift ending between 10-11:00 p.m. It becomes next to impossible for these types of retailers, or any company who use a two person closing shift, to schedule around these restrictions. In… Read more »
Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
Having a teen myself, I can easily believe that the cause, at least at our house, would be conflicting activities that would impair the ability to be a focused employee to anyone. On the other hand, we have had considerable discussions with our child and our child’s friends, those who work and those who do not. Some have had experiences and some haven’t. That being said, the opportunities today are far different than when my wife and I were teens. There are certainly plenty of opportunities where they can be used. That also seemed to be the common thread in the experiences of the teens we’ve talked with. They felt very strongly that they were simply a body and used. They felt very undervalued and, in turn, found no value in the opportunity. This spills over to our discussions about just where could our child potentially work where that might not be the case. Even today, I draw considerable value from my teen employment. The reasons for that are countless, both in the ways I… Read more »
Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
15 years 10 months ago

On a broader scale, and taking the statistics and explanations at face value, this article says that there is a classic supply and demand issue. While there are always some kids whose economic situation allows full time participation in academics, sports, and extracurricular activity, there are also those who require supplemental income. If the supply of part time workers is being increased by seniors, undocumented aliens, and higher level unemployed “stepping down,” then the ones who will benefit most are the retailers with the most flexible pay structure. This means the non-union retailer who can quickly adjust wages to match the changing market conditions will benefit by lowering their unit cost of labor.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
There seem to be quite a few valid explanations for why this is happening and it doesn’t seem sensible to “blame” any particular factor. There was a similar discussion on one of our radio programmes yesterday about why there are fewer kids with paper rounds nowadays. Predictable comments about lazy kids vs over-protective parents but with a smattering of admissions about pensioners taking their jobs thrown in. What strikes me as an answer to the question, though, is that retailing and foodservice businesses will more likely be affected by the fact that people who are teenagers today and have not worked in that type of environment will have little or no understanding of what the job entails. They might, therefore, as the article points out, miss some of the lessons they would have learned and which could be of value later. They might also be less sympathetic to the people who do the jobs. Then again, if the employers are finding other people to fill the jobs then perhaps there is no great loss to… Read more »
Connie Kski
Guest
Connie Kski
15 years 10 months ago
Teenagers are very important to my small pet shop. In many respects, they are the highest quality employees I can hire. In order to maintain a quality group, I screen for interest in animals, no conflicting sports or clubs, and an interest in either retail or animals as a career. They also need to be bright, friendly and personable. If they see their part time job as a ‘career position’ where they will learn something useful in their adult life, they tend to stay longer and value their job (important in this high income community!). They are REQUIRED to work one afternoon and one weekend day. When they have shown they can handle that level of commitment, they may be offered an additional afternoon. Then, they may also be offered school holiday hours and school vacation hours. I will not hire a teen that wants to work 5 days after school. They simply cannot manage that schedule on a regular basis. I currently have a high school senior on staff that will be attending Cornell… Read more »
bert thompson
Guest
bert thompson
15 years 10 months ago

The main reason is not just competition for jobs from adults — it is competition for jobs from undocumented workers/illegal immigrants. Where there used to be teenagers doing the part-time work, there are undocumented workers now, often taking the jobs for a lower wage.

Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
There may be a benefit in this to retailers as the quality of their service could (should?) improve with the age of their workforce. Not to bash teens or anything (I have 3 that I’m darn proud of) but shouldn’t this generally be the case as more maturity kicks in? I guess the counterpoint is that a teen with the proper upbringing will be just as “well-mannered” as anyone else. I also wonder how much of this trend is from kids just not having to work as much. That seems counterintuitive in that the report says it is teens from low income families that are dropping out of the workforce. It is tempting to couch this in social terms (i.e. it is the “more responsible kids” who are working) but my own sample of three says the one that never held a public job is very responsible and the one that works as much as she can is my “challenge.” Perhaps employers are applying that stereotype in reverse..? Preferring to hire seniors and lower income… Read more »
Len Lewis
Guest
Len Lewis
15 years 10 months ago

First, let’s make it clear that the number of teenage parttimers employed is cyclical in nature and it’s going to go up again when schools let out for summer. I would also question the statistics from another perspective — a shortage of jobs for workers in that age group. This has been well publicized in the New York area and I’m sure it occurs elsewhere as well.

The problem is that many employers are making do with what they have, rather than increasing the workforce.

However, if the study is correct, it simply means that retailers will be facing a smaller labor pool and competing more aggressively for existing workers. But you know who loses the most? — customers. Fewer employees = less service.

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
15 years 10 months ago

It may be that the baby boomer adults are replacing teenagers in the retail packaged and foodservice world. Either as a second job, or new career after retirement.

Also, dependability and experience with this adult group may be more valuable today, given the need for better shopper attention, service and loyalty building.

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