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Back to summer jobs for teens (Michelle Singletary column)

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#1 Jane in NC

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 06:36 PM

Michelle Singletary of the Washington Post is one of my favorite columnists. Here are her observations on summer job opportunities for teens, including some good financial advice for those kids who have landed jobs:

A Bummer Summer for Job-Seeking Teens

By Michelle Singletary
Thursday, June 5, 2008; D02

If your teenager hasn't secured a summer job, he or she may find the employment possibilities limited this season.

The market for summer jobs nationwide is going to be dismal, according to a study released by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

The deterioration of national labor market conditions has accelerated the collapse of the teen job market across the country, the center reported in April.

Teen employment rates have been declining sharply since the fall of 2006. The summer 2007 job market for teens was the worst on record in the post-World War II period as the seasonally adjusted employment rate for teens plummeted to 34.5 percent.

The 2008 summer jobs outlook will be even worse than last year, given the three consecutive monthly losses in employment at the national level from January through March 2008 and the continued decline in the teen labor market, the center reported. The center's predicted summer teen employment rate for this year is 34.2 percent, which is below the historical low experienced last summer and 11 percentage points below the summer employment rate of 2000.

Job losses for teens over the past eight years have been severe for nearly all major demographic, socioeconomic and geographic subgroups. Younger teens (16-17), males, blacks and Hispanics, and those in low-income households are most at-risk of joblessness this summer.

Teens will find it harder to find work because of a number of factors. There's the economy, of course.

Nearly half (49 percent) of hiring managers at companies providing traditional hourly employment such as retailers and restaurants reported that they weren't planning to add any new seasonal workers in 2008, a consequence of the uncertain economy, according to a survey of more than 1,000 summer employers by SnagAJob.com, an online source of hourly jobs.

SnagAJob also found that managers who do plan on hiring are less than impressed with teens' work ethic. More than half of those surveyed (56 percent) agreed with the statement that "today's youth do not have the same work ethic as previous generations have had."

Teens will also find a lot of job competition, especially from recently displaced workers. For example, General Motors has announced it will close four of its truck and SUV plants in coming months.

Recently laid-off workers and college graduates are grabbing some of the jobs that would have gone to teens.

Joblessness among teens could have one bright side: Although teens may learn some valuable workplace skills on the job, they also often pick up some bad money habits.

If teens do find a job, parents need to use this early work experience to teach them about money management or the extra cash might be spent recklessly. Far too often summer paychecks allow teens to indulge in wanton consumerism. They get their paycheck, and it is all play money to them.

If your teen is working, how much of the paycheck is earmarked for college savings, for example?

For many, summer work is key in paving the way for better employment in the future.

"Less work experience today leads to less work experience tomorrow and lower earnings down the road," the authors of the Northeastern report wrote. "Disadvantaged teens who work in high school are more likely to remain in high school than their peers who do not work. Teens who work more in high school have an easier transition into the labor market after graduation."

Additionally, national evidence shows that pregnancy rates for teens are lower in metropolitan areas where employment rates for teen girls are higher.

Whether you find your teen is ready to work or able to get a summer job, follow these tips to help him or her better manage the income:

· Consider setting up a joint bank account, or at least be sure you get a duplicate copy of your teen's bank statements. And review spending habits with your child when the statements arrive.

· Make the teen draft a budget, and review it.

· Establish ground rules for how earnings will be used. For example, if your child is planning to attend college, make sure he or she is saving a significant percentage of their pay toward education expenses.

· Talk to your child about how he or she is spending money not earmarked for savings. This is where you can allow freedom to spend, but just discuss how to make smart shopping choices.

· Don't allow your employed teen to get a credit card (or use yours). There's plenty of time for a young person to learn to use credit. Instead let them figure out how to get what they want using cash.

You may get some pushback from some of these rules, but you're the parent. Don't miss an opportunity to show your teen the right way to manage money from summer earnings.


#2 DollyM


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Posted 05 June 2008 - 10:32 PM

She had a pt job with the local chain bookstore, and was hoping to work TONS over the summer, but alas, all the college kids returned and THEY will get hours, too, so less (LESS?!) for DD.

Enter a pregnant friend (adult) with two little guys at home who desperately needs nanny/gopher help and has a budget to make it worth DD's while! Whoohooo. It's going to work out BEAUTIFULLY for both of them, and I realize now what a double blessing that is!

The friend's baby comes right about same time DD is off to college. SCHWEEEEET! :lol:

#3 Halftime Hope

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 06:31 AM

1) I've seen several cases in which a volunteer job, worked diligently by a younger teen/tween, later turned into a paid job as the needs of the organization/business grew. Along the same line, if the volunteer work teaches a skillset, that skillset can then be applied elsewhere. A teen with a differentiating skillset has a leg up in the marketplace.

2) If $ is not in direly short supply, and the student is bright, it may be a very wise investment for parents to pay the teen to take on studying for the high-stakes tests as a part-time summer job. A student with very high test scores will be in much better shape for scholarships; even a student with moderately high test scores can be in the running for scholarships at a less selective school.

Food for thought...

#4 danielle


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Posted 07 June 2008 - 11:28 AM

"If $ is not in direly short supply, and the student is bright, it may be a very wise investment for parents to pay the teen to take on studying for the high-stakes tests as a part-time summer job. A student with very high test scores will be in much better shape for scholarships; even a student with moderately high test scores can be in the running for scholarships at a less selective school"

I might add, spend the summer seeking out scholarships. I've just been reading "How to Go to College Almost For Free". I consider finding scholarships and entering competitions to be at least one of dd's part time jobs. There are lots of essay contests that pay $250-$500. It seems to me that's a pretty good rate for 2-3 hours work. Plus, excellent practice in writing a short essay (much more motivating than MY assignments!) The biggest revelation to me is that there are plenty of scholarships & competitions that can be entered beginning in 7th or 8th grade. I'm signed up for FASTWEB also, which sends an awful lot of email but turns up some interesting stuff.

Or how about starting a business? Even if it doesn't take off, the experience and the ability to write about it on college essays can be worth a lot. There are plenty of books on how to start an internet business, so even if the dc is in a rural or remote area, it can be done. And they will learn how to put up a website, a valuable skill at the moment. JMTC.