Posted by Brian McCullough
I’ve read about this now in several different places (most recently in a newspaper story, the link to which I cannot find) but this post in Cheezhead sums it up.
Essentially, the job market for part-time jobs, the sort usually filled by teenagers in high school, is the worst it has ever been.
(…) addressing the deficit is so important because teens who work more in high school have an easier transition into the labor market after graduation. (…) national evidence shows that pregnancy rates for teens are lower in metropolitan areas where employment rates for teen girls are higher.
Several commenters have made the point that this drop in employment amongst teenagers comes right after the recent hike in the minimum wage.
My own take is that the minimum wage has nothing to do with it. I would bet if you pulled out the numbers, teen employment had begun dropping long before the wage changed.
The simple fact is, teens are facing more competition. When the economy goes south, people tend to take extra jobs to make more money. Minimum wage jobs are the most flexible in terms of hours, and the most plentiful and easy to snag.
In addition, when the job market turns sour, lots of people are forced to settle. If you’ve been out of work for 4 months and nothing solid has turned up, at some point you have to take any job you can get, just to get SOME money coming in the door.
So the problem is simply that, in the current environment, teens – who, for the most part, don’t need these jobs with any degree of urgency – are competing with adults who are aggressively going after these jobs out of necessity.