A changing economy and well-meaning adults are blamed as the two main reasons why summer jobs for American teens are drying up.
Successful, “self-made” Americans often speak about the one experience that gave them their start in life – the part-time jobs they held as teenagers, which included early-morning alarm clocks, tough bosses and aching muscles at night.
According to a report in The Economist, 72 percent of all teenagers were employed in July 1978. But that number has declined drastically – in July 2016, only 43 percent of American teens were employed.
Former President Ronald Reagan worked as a lifeguard when he was a teenager, and was credited for saving the life of a drowning man near his boyhood home in Dixon, Illinois.
Now, the report states, many parents in the same town encourage their teens to take summer classes, practice for sports or do volunteer work, instead of taking summer jobs, in the hope it will help them compete better for colleges.
The mayor of Dixon, Illinois, Liandro Arellano Jr., said well-intentioned politicians have complicated the job prospects for teens by raising the minimum wage to 8.25. Employers who have to invest that much are now hiring older workers with more experience and a proven job record.
The minimum wage for workers under age 18 is $7.75, but they require more training, and workers under age 15 face additional job regulations, such as not being allowed to work with meat slicers or bread knives.
An additional problem exists with teenage workers – Mayor Arellano said keeping them off their smartphones is a “constant battle.”
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