Teen Jobs Not Vanishing; Teen Workers Are

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%:

USA Today: "Fewer Teens in Summer Jobs"

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.

32 Responses to Teen Jobs Not Vanishing; Teen Workers Are

  1. Porter Lansing

    What can the legislature do to help create, propagate and stimulate after college, in-state jobs for these future job seekers? The “brain drain” in SoDak is a real and serious problem.

  2. The employers go to the H2B for immigrant workers to fill the spots like they always have. The summer workers are not from South Dakota, they are from all over the world.

  3. Donald Pay

    Yes, more teens are busy in the summer in special academic programs or camps. But what is the reason for that? Notice the trend that began in the mid-1990s. That is when welfare reform started. Requiring adults on welfare to find a job set up a more competitive market for entry level jobs, and teens lost out to adults for a number of reasons. Adults were more knowledgeable and reliable workers.

  4. In 2008, the crap shoot called Wall Street devastated millions of older workers. The loss of their retirement funds in this corruption, has caused older workers to do these jobs to survive. When your Social Security is $800.00 a month, that is not enough to survive on. You must have a job or be on the street. Many of these older workers have health issues in addition to being worn out, but they have to keep punching a clock they thought they were through with during their working years. Retirement for many, is just a dirty word that means another work day.

  5. If lack of Teen jobs is really because “Increased competition, older workers returning to the workforce and weak economic growth are all contributing to the decline of teenagers in the workforce.” then why is Wall and Custer filled with imported foreign workers?

    My bet: If you were to eliminate the importing of foreign labor, filling these entry level jobs, you would see wages rise to attract workers and an increase in the availability of jobs for teens. But then what do I know. . .

    Last month I was on a flight back to Rapid and the young man sitting next to me was from South Africa. He had just left a waiting job in NJ and was heading to Custer State Park for a attending job. You would think and American would like that opportunity. . . I guess its more important to just keep that American on welfare, SNAP, energy assistance and in a subsidized apartment.

  6. Wow OldSarg, you are an amazing feller to not be able to see why Wall and Custer go for imported foreign labor as does Murdo and other smaller venues. The reason is simple, money. You can get immigrant workers that do not complain about how what they are expected to do or the hours that it takes to get the jobs done. Check it out, even in Maine, the right wing governor there is releasing prisoners to work in the tourist field because of the lack of H2B workers. Without immigrants, we Americans would not be able to enjoy our vacations and cooked food and made beds and that sort of thing.

    As far as welfare goes, here we are talking about teens. How that works is between 13 and 19 years of age. The 13 to the 17 year old teens, still are picking pimples and giggling with high pitched voices. The older teens are working on the farm or ranch or they are working to get ready for college. Generally the 13 to 17 year old teens not only do not have a subsidized apartment, but they also do not have a vehicle to take them to the job site. Mom and Dad have put several thousand miles on the jalopy hauling them back and forth to school functions.

    The fact is, South Dakota tourism is really not interested in South Dakota teens from 13 to 17 years of age for work in the hospitality business. What they are interested in are those older than that for work in which they do not have to pay health insurance for and stuff like that. You do know of course, that you must be 16 to run the grill for cooking. So there is that.

    The South African was more than likely an H2B immigrant OldSarg, as you note, not an American. He is on an adventure like folks do when they do student exchanges, if your boy still allows that.

  7. I hire seasonal workers, ages 18 to some college or grads. Jobs are available. Applicants are increasingly sparse. Applicant pools dry up quickly. I’m not as desperate as colleagues who described their applicant test as, ‘checking for a pulse.’ When I receive a resume with only academic and academic-play (clubs, events, sports, etc.) – lacking work experience; it goes in the tentative ‘don’t hire’ pile.

    We should take issue with the premise that ‘school work grows intense’ so 4 times as many youngsters flock to summer schools. Test the reverse hypothesis – that school work is so lame and irrelevant as to not adequately prepare large numbers for intelligently operating in or gaining higher education in our society, so students flock to summer school addressing the educational delivery gap.

    Consider the testimony of the nation’s newest 18-year old millionaire. He’s a high school drop out lacking a GED. High school teachers mocked him. Now it’s his turn. He has no plans to attend college, though his parents and siblings have doctorates.

    We’re in the midst of the 4th industrial revolution – needing innovative executors in nanotech, biotech, robotics, education, and artificial intelligence. Establishments and bureaucracies are not apace with changes and developments – thus, there are alternative ways to move forward.

    Consider that if we need a bigger seasonal worker pool we should open our borders a bit; and stop seeking the counsel of our fears, lest we inwardly implode on ourselves as the British are hell-bent to.
    Consider also that we should make high school “work”. It’s a four-letter word recognized by the rest of the world. There is too much extended adolescence and play time in high school. Check your school against the educational delivery and attainment found in Singapore, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Norway, the Netherlands, South Korea, etc.

  8. Porter Lansing

    John, I don’t believe we need a bigger seasonal worker pool. I believe YOU need a bigger seasonal worker pool. WE need incentives to keep the talent from moving where jobs pay a living wage.

  9. Or, we could do like Governor Paul LeDumb from Maine suggests http://www.pressherald.com/2014/01/08/lepage_says_children_should_have_work_option/ Boy howdy, that would be the ticket eh OldSarg? Put those kids back in the service line 8 or 9 year olds, who needs schools?

  10. I frankly think it’s also the greed and desire for exploitation of workers to maximize profit that’s the main driver here. I know plenty of young people who applied for the seasonal jobs in the Black Hills last summer and this summer and were never even given the time of day, yet these same employers whine and moan and wring their hands over not having any locals apply so they simply MUST sacrifice and bring in foreign workers for the summer (I’m especially looking at you hospitality companies who run things in Custer State Park).

    I have vacationed in the Hills with family for 48 years now, since I was four years old. I grew up vacationing in the Hills and I raised my son to enjoy the same; it’s the highlight of both of our summers. Even more so for me once I moved to South Dakota and could, and still can, be in the Hills almost any time I want now. My family and I have spent what probably by now amounts to tens of thousands of dollars there, mostly at Custer State Park. And yet when my now-grown son applies for jobs there, he isn’t even given the time of day, and neither are all of the others I know who’ve done the same. They all know the area inside and out and are hard workers and would be great assets. But they aren’t given the time of day. They don’t WANT American workers because they can exploit foreign ones. They take our money, then enrich themselves while ignoring American workers, including those who’ve been their customers for many years, so that they can pay foreign workers less and work them more so that they can pay themselves even more.

  11. Porter Lansing

    Laurisa … I believe the concessions in the park are operated by Ramkota Companies out of Sioux Falls. In case anyone wants to contact them.

  12. All that should matter in Conserva-Kota is building an infrastructure complete with a lively community that people and good paying businesses want to move to.

    SD will continue to have labor shortages because it’s remaining citizens largely don’t like people from other states moving here. SD’s heart is in the wrong place on economic development. Meanwhile, all the best and brightest Americans have been be moving to where the quality of life – and affluence – is since forever ago.

    If you build it, they will come, and so, SD doesn’t really want to build sh!t.

  13. Proof that Mr. Novstrup, the younger, was right. Senator Novstrup had his finger on the beat of the heart but decided to step away for his elder, and that was unfortunate for all of us.

  14. Adam is right – but that is temporarily our advantage in seasonal hiring. Energetic, self-starters scoop up positions here gaining valuable experience that would take years to develop in hubs of economic development. They put up with living in our cultural backwater for a few seasons, gaining valuable career experience to than launch their careers in the economic hubs. If we have them for 2-3 seasons we gain – big time.

    If local colleges gave a damn they’d have programs similar to this – helping their students, the college, local communities, and the local employers. https://www.suu.edu/siel/outdoor/iic.html

    About half of my historical seasonal hires were / are local. Local is a tiny advantage because seasonal housing is expensive and hard to come by due to the Rally and rent-for-you-like businesses who’s model is locking up rentals for year leases. Yet, I skip local if the other applicant is better qualified and more motivated. A down side of local is they think and can bounce from job to job. I’m interested in being a career feeder, not a holding pattern for job hoppers.

  15. John, our young Mr. Finman ought to go to at least one college economics class to understand what an investment bubble looks like.

    I believe another reason for the decline of teen summer workers is that the wages that teens earn over a summer’s employment are nowhere close to the cost of a year of college tuition. Why save to go to college if you still have to take out yuge loans to pay the remainder of the costs. The time invested doesn’t seem worth the return. Instead of wage earning, that time seems better invested in other activities. Many, many, (many, many . . .) years ago, I worked a good summer (union) job and made enough money to pay for a year of college; those days are long gone.

  16. Marketwatch for higher prices on food. Thanks to cult republicans voting for trump to end the workers that have fed us for decades. Looks like we are gonna be paying for produce from Mexico as ours will rot in the fields. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/6/25/1673977/-The-consequences-of-voting-against-your-best-interests By golly, we sure showed them didn’t we
    Steve, big cantaloupes, King.

  17. John, while I don’t need seasonal hiring so much, I still totally identify with your non-preference for applicants just looking for “a job.” I also wish there were more career oriented young people West River. I also know that I can give them outstanding work experience, but so very many local working people – both young and old – are just looking for “a job” and not a resume building, personalized action based on vision for their future work or career path.

    Things really need to change statewide, and Rapid City seems to be demonstrating an understanding of that in the last 5 years. So, that much is good.

  18. Furthering the school thesis. Watch this 3:35 minute clip. Well edited. Note the student’s high school computer science teacher is a woman – a rarity, very welcome. Note her initial motivation and encouragement. Then note as the student is catching fire with an idea to make artificial intelligence and machine learning to make a difference, make an impact – the teacher encourages him to ‘chill’ to be a kid, aka to waste his time. Fortunately he ignores her. Note how much of his knowledge is self-taught. Ask yourself, where was the school curriculum? And note, he’s an immigrant from Afghanistan.

  19. John, can you help me with some background understanding: what business do you operate that a program like the one at SUU would help funnel young workers to? For the kids not just looking for a “job,” can they continue with you to a career, or are you saying you are a step in their career pathway that will still lead them away from your employ?

  20. Porter Lansing

    Great video, John. Do you or anyone know if there are beginning programming classes being taught in any SoDak high schools or middle schools?

  21. Perhaps my final contribution to the ‘school’ thesis on Cory’s masterful note.
    Others waxed eloquently on the need for US schools to abandon their 19th century model of chasing the growing season and to virtually attend school year round. The first world education systems have about 220 student teacher contact days annually, some 230 or more, some a few less. It is long past the time to abandon the 180-day school year(?) model as passe. This too, is another reason why many students attend school or academic offerings in lieu of seeking seasonal employment. They want to be competitive.

    O: I work for one of those 8 logos represented on the SUU Intergovernmental Internship Program web page. I would not recommend such students ‘continue with me’ for a career since to characterize my agency’s permanent hiring practices as constipated, insults constipation. Working for me is a step in their career path. Perhaps they could catch a very lucky break and remain with the agency; but the greater likelihood is they could more timely take their career forward with the first hiring agency (private, non-profit, local, state, or federal) they find. My philosophy is a combination of a) pay it forward; and b) helping others climb on my shoulders – others gave this punk seasonal positions at parks and research while I was younger than peers vying for those positions – because of the potential and actual payback they (and I received).
    PL: I am not aware of middle or high school programing classes. But since my kids have kids, I’m out of the curriculum loop.

  22. John, Thanks for the background; I get you point more clearly now. I agree that the “agrarian” summer vacation schedule needs to be re-examined (academic summer-slide and food assistance for low-income students especially are real issues), but your assertion that countries doing better than the US are spending more student contact time is not the case: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/Time-in-school-How-does-the-US-compare.

    Back to the topic at hand, if there were no summer vacation, how does a state like SD function during a “tourist season” if there is neither a student pool of workers (42% of teens do still work) nor a pool of vacationing families (because they shave students in school over the summer)?

  23. Porter Lansing

    Thanks, John. Mr. Heidelberger. Do you know if Aberdeen High Schools offer computer programming?

  24. I love the school thesis. Our education system was built for an older time, and the economy has changed a little quicker than our systems for learning have kept up.

    Rethinking how we educate our youth is LONG overdue. What is being a kid? How long should it last? I don’t know, but fact is: I’ve learned more [or as much] critical knowledge outside of institutionally modeled school than I did in it – because I wanted to and the Internet.

  25. Food and farmers are now not really important in the big scheme of things. The rich can just fly in the special food they want to consume while the rest of us can watch it rot. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/farms-h2a-program-immigrant-workers-food-waste_us_57b5df93e4b034dc73261b36

  26. Porter, yes, Aberdeen’s A-TEC Academy offers one half-credit programming class and web design class that deals with code (but uses Dreamweaver, apparently, for much of the work).

  27. Laurisa, I’m alarmed that, with all the complaining about not enough work visas available to bring their usual foreign crews over, any Black Hills tourism operator would turn away a willing local worker. Immigrants aren’t taking “our” jobs; it sounds like employers are keeping them away from those of us who want them, just to save a few bucks exploiting more vulnerable workers. Maybe reining in those work visas will do the tourism industry and our willing local teen workers some good.

  28. John, your observations about K-12 education perhaps getting slacker rather than more intense and Adam’s questions get me thinking about Leon Botstein’s education plan again. He said we could condense K-12 education into K-9: cram all the basics that every citizen needs into kids’ heads before they hit full-tilt teenagerdom. Then when they finish grade 9, instead of keeping them in that extended holding pattern you speak of, we let ’em loose—college or college prep, vocational training, work, whatever, kids. Make your way. Put your energy to good use.

    Dang, that would play heck with high school sports, wouldn’t it?

  29. O makes an important point about the actual economics at play. Suppose a kid can land a $10/hour job during the summer. 40 hours a week, 16 weeks—that’s $6,400. That’s 38% of the $16,632 SDSU says a typical undergrad will need for a year on campus. To make the rest, a student would have to work just about 30 hours a week during the 36 weeks that she is at college. For a full-time student who wants to concentrate on classes while on campus, working 30 hours a week is generally out of the question; she will need to get scholarships, a student loan, or a grant from the Bank of Mom & Dad.

    I wonder… can we argue that 16 weeks of full-time work in the summer (plus maybe some amount of overtime) ought to be enough to pay for nine months of college tuition?

  30. Rapid City is changing, Adam? What’s Rapid City figuring out that the rest of South Dakota isn’t?

  31. I agree that teens looking for a career will usually perform better than typical job-hoppers. But just how many seasonal positions really fit into any professional, aspirational career track?

  32. Very good question from O about what happens to South Dakota’s tourism industry if we cut off the supply of teen workers and family vacationers by moving toward year-round school. That’s not a question that should stop the state from considering how best to serve students, but it’s still a really important economic question.