Fewer Teens Taking Traditional Jobs

That old rite of passage for teenagers--the summer job--isn't what it used to be.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 35 percent of teens had jobs or were looking for a job in the summer of 2016.  That's down from over 50 percent in the 1970s and 80s and part of a steady decline in the teen workforce over decades.

The easy answer as to why fewer teens are getting jobs these days is that they're lazy and entitled.  But that is not the case, according to Daren Martin, workplace culture expert.  "It's not that this generation is lazy or doesn't want to work---every previous generation has been accused of that," he says.  "Millennials in reality can be some of the hardest working people on the planet."

Martin tells KTRH that there are multiple reasons why fewer teens are working traditional jobs, starting with the fact that there are simply fewer of those types of jobs available.  "A lot of those starter jobs are ultimately going away, because with the looming advent of AI (artificial intelligence) and some other things, a lot of just rote, manual jobs are going to be outsourced," he says. Indeed, artificial intelligence is cutting into the types of jobs that teens would typically pursue, like fast food.

Another factor is higher minimum wage laws passed across many cities and states, which has also reduced the number of available entry-level jobs in recent years.

Ultimately, Marten believes teens today have a different perspective about the job market.  "I think they're not seeing those entry-level jobs as table stakes to moving up into a better paying job," he says.  In other words, a larger number of young people are pursuing education, hobbies or more creative ways to make money than working at a supermarket or a soda shop.  "A lot of those jobs, quite frankly, for what their capabilities are in other areas, just don't pay enough money," says Marten.

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