Which Teens Work - If They Can Find a Job

As summer arrives, the job market for teens seems to be suffering with the rest of the economy. In fact, teens seem to be competing with unemployed adults for work, and the poorest teens find it hardest to get work. Our local paper had a chart from the Department of Labor: Center for Labor Market Studies which showed clearly that white teens (ages 16-19) from families with incomes over $75,000 a year were the most likely to be employed last summer.

In fact, about half of those teens worked compared to less than 30% of Black and Hispanic teens from families with incomes under $60,000 a year. I could not figure this out until a friend pointed out that it is the wealthier teens who have the family and school connections that help them get summer jobs - with colleagues of parents, in parents' offices, at pools where they swim, stables where they ride, stores where they shop, and as counselors where they have attended camps.

Of course, the teens who really need the jobs cannot find them and the teens who do not need to work, but are doing it to build character, college resumes, or savings accounts, can - what was I thinking?

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