In May, June and July, employment among 16 to 19 years olds expanded by nearly 1.3 million. That sounds like a lot of teenagers working, but that was actually down 4.3 percent from the same period in 2013. While some may hold the economy accountable for slower teen hiring, longer term trends tell a far different story.
As reported by marketwatch, the number of teens with summer jobs has declined by approximately 30 percentage points since the late 1970s. In 1978, nearly three in four teenagers ages 16 to 19 held a summer job. But last year, only 4 in 10 teens did according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The proportion of teenagers with summer jobs was lower than during the late 1970's has even during good economic times. For instance, during the dot-com boom of the late 1990's when national unemployment was about 4 percent, roughly 6 in 10 teenagers held summer jobs.
Recent survey data indicate that a growing fractions of teens don’t want a job. Before one rolls one’s eyes, this is not simply because today’s teens are lazier. Many teens are in summer school. Rates of summer school attendance are at one of the highest levels ever. Others are participating in unpaid internships or padding their college applications through volunteerism.