KELO-TV mistags a story on youth employment. “Teen Summer Jobs Are Vanishing,” KELO writes over five sentences excerpted from a much more detailed AP story, but the story is not that teen summer jobs are vanishing. More accurately, teens are choosing other activities over getting jobs:
Instead of finding them interning in an office or behind a fast food counter, these days, you’ll find many teens in some sort of summer school. Forty-two percent of teenagers were enrolled in classes last summer — almost four times the number of students enrolled in summer school in July 1985. By 2024, teenage workers will make up just 26% percent of the workforce, a reduction of almost half since 1948 when the same age group accounted for more than 52% of workers.
Increased competition, older workers returning to the workforce and weak economic growth are all contributing to the decline of teenagers in the workforce. But as schoolwork grows increasingly intense and homework eats up more time, data suggest the biggest reason some teens won’t be working this summer is that they simply don’t have time.
“Students are paying more attention to course work and spending more time on school activities,” said Teresa Morisi, branch chief of the Division of Occupational Employment Projections at the BLS [Kellie Ell, “More Teenagers Choosing Summer Studies over Jobs,” USA Today, 2017.06.21].
This decline in teen workers shows that the trend I noted in April—teen workforce participation dropping significantly in the last two recessions—extends further back in time, with nationwide teen workforce participation down from its 1978 peak of 71.8% to last year’s 43.2%:
The USA Today article mentions the rising minimum wage as a factor that encourages employers to hire older workers, but that wage/age pressure appears minor compared to the much larger trend of young people hitting the books rather than working as cooks to handle tougher classes and prepare for college.
So settle down, David Novstrup. The minimum wage isn’t driving kids out of the workforce; kids themselves are, as they find certain pursuits more important than the almighty dollar.