teen worker

All that’s lost when teens don’t work

Originally published at The Philadelphia Inquirer

At a back-to-school night this year, I chatted with a group of moms who had kids in high school. Their teens’ summers were filled with internships, service projects, sports camps, and more sports camps. Summer jobs? “Too hard to get.” “Not enough time.” “They won’t hire kids,” the moms told me.

All the moms in that group had worked as teens, and we agreed that our early jobs helped shape us. But today, American teenagers — especially here in the Philly area — largely aren’t employed.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the labor force participation rate for 16- to 19-year-olds was roughly 37% in August 2023. This wasn’t always the case. Forty-five years ago, more than 59% of 16- to 19-year-olds were working. Teen employment peaked in 1978 and has continued to decline ever since. Here in Pennsylvania, according to the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, teenagers constitute only 6.3% of the commonwealth’s workforce.

Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer