It’s summertime, but the living ain’t easy — especially for teenagers on the job hunt. Fewer than three in 10 American teens now spend June through August working the jobs that have traditionally belonged to the youth, such as busing tables or working cash registers.
Employment rates for 16- to 19-year-olds are at the lowest level since World War II, reported recently.
We already knew that we live in a country where application pools for entry-level jobs are teeming with the overqualified; where job fairs touting underpaid positions draw in crowds by the hundreds. But now, it is also one where a 16-year-old can no longer expect to bag groceries all summer, watching those precious minimum-wage paychecks add up in their college fund.
These lower-skill jobs once filled by high school students now go to college graduates, immigrants and the recently laid-off, struggling to pay off loans and support families in a weak economy.
What’s even more frightening is that teen employment may never return to pre-recession levels, according to a projection by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The work ethic that was instilled in many at a young age may now be lost with the rising generation, the consequences of which we likely won’t learn until they take the helm of the working world.
The lower employment levels are also in part reflective of a cultural shift, in which a number of students now spend summers in college preparatory camps or arts programs rather than scooping ice cream, in hopes of better preparing for university life — at least academically, if not financially.
But Americans were smacked with another unpleasant statistic: The average tuition at four-year public universities rose a whopping 15 percent between 2008 and 2010 — faster than the cost of health care. Tuition rates have also significantly increased at private universities, with some lesser-known schools charging twice as much as Harvard. …
So what are teens supposed to do, when work is nearly impossible to get, and public university tuition, along with loan interest rates, continue to rise? These are problems that cannot be ignored in the upcoming election. …
— Distributed by The Associated Press