There has been an AP story going around saying that 7 in 10 teens lack summer jobs.
The NY Times parenting blog says the end of the summer job.
Let’s examine the reasons why employers may have hired teens for summer jobs in the past, and why it’s no longer relevant today.
1. In the past there was a lot of farm work that needed to be done during the summer. And in fact, the original reason for giving children summer vacations was so they could work around the farm. But today, agriculture is highly automated and only a tiny percentage of the population actually works on farms, and there are migrant farm laborers from Mexico who work for less than the minimum wage, and it’s crappy work that no teen wants to do anyway.
2. In the past there was other seasonal labor related to the vacation industry, and teens were ideal for this labor because they happened to be available during the vacation season. However, today, the vacation season extends from Memorial Day until late September, and teens aren’t available for this entire period. The solution is special H2B and J1 visas for non-citizens, who live in crappy dormitories, get paid low wages, and sign up to work for an entire vacation season. No need for teens. Most teens don’t live in vacation areas anyway.
3. Teens were hired just because they were cheap labor. But today there is cheap Mexican labor, and Mexicans don’t quit at the end of the summer, so they are more ideally suited to filling the demand for cheap labor than teens. And teens often don’t take their jobs seriously anyway. Mexicans, especially if they are here illegally and have family to support, are more reliably subservient than teens.
4. Teens were given summer jobs out of community spirit. Ha, that doesn’t happen anymore. What’s community spirit?
Does it really matter that teens don’t have summer jobs? What’s the value of teens doing menial work when they should be acquiring real job skills so they can have a future career that doesn’t involve menial work? I think that too many people are worrying about a trend that isn’t a real problem.
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Note that I got the idea for this post from a link at Gucci Little Piggy, a blogger who has been contributing some good stuff.