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Jonathan Allardyce

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The Summer Job Search

Why are fewer and fewer teens getting summer jobs?

When the school year ends, Grayson Felter’s work will just be starting. The 14-year-old will be a camp counselor at a Boy Scout camp in upstate New York this summer. “There’s different responsibilities throughout the camp,” Grayson says, “but basically I’ll need to make sure campers are OK and get them what they need.”

In the past, most teens would have jobs lined up, like Grayson. More than 50 percent of U.S. teens had summer jobs in the 1970s. But by 2000, the percent of employed teens had plummeted. Now only 35 percent are employed in July and August. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this number to fall even further by 2024, when only 1 in 4 teens will have a summer job.

It isn’t for lack of trying, says sociologist Jeylan Mortimer at the University of Minnesota. “There’s been a very clear decline in the number of opportunities for teenagers,” she says. “Teenagers still want to work.” This is especially true in the summer, when teens have fewer responsibilities.

When the school year ends, Grayson Felter's work will just be starting. The 14-year-old will be a camp counselor at a Boy Scout camp this summer. "There's different responsibilities throughout the camp," Grayson says. "But basically I'll need to make sure campers are OK and get them what they need."

In the past, most teens would have summer jobs lined up. More than 50 percent of U.S. teens had summer jobs in the 1970s. But by 2000, the percent of employed teens had plummeted. Now only 35 percent are employed in July and August. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this number to drop even lower. It predicts that only 1 in 4 teens will have a summer job by 2024.

It isn't for lack of trying, says Jeylan Mortimer. She’s a sociologist at the University of Minnesota. “Teenagers still want to work,” she says. It’s especially true in the summer, when teens have fewer responsibilities. But the number of summer jobs available has dropped significantly.

Many jobs that used to be filled by teenagers, such as cashier at grocery stores and fast-food restaurants, are no longer available. These positions have been filled by adults who can work year-round.

But that doesn’t mean teens are goofing off all summer. About half of U.S. teens participate in some kind of educational activity. It might be additional classes, a specialized camp, or an enrichment program at a university.

Others take internships to get experience in a field they might want to pursue a career in. “Internships can provide exposure to different kinds of workplaces,” Mortimer says. Internships help teens test-drive careers before investing time and money in more training. But she also says that taking an internship—which is often unpaid—isn’t an option for students who need to earn money during the summer months.

If Grayson hadn’t gotten a job as a camp counselor, he still would have had summer plans. Instead of working at a camp, he’d have attended a sports-focused camp as a regular camper. But he’s excited to get to work!

Teenagers used to work as cashiers at grocery stores and fast-food restaurants. Many of these jobs are no longer available. Now, adults who can work year-round have these jobs.

But that doesn't mean teens are goofing off all summer. About half of U.S. teens participate in educational activities. Some take classes. Others go to a camp or a program at a university.

Many take internships to test-drive a career. "Internships can provide exposure to different kinds of workplaces," Mortimer says. Teens can see if they like the job before investing time and money in more training. But Mortimer also says that taking an internship isn't an option for everyone. Internships are often unpaid. But some students need to earn money during the summer months.

If Grayson hadn't gotten a job as a camp counselor, he still would have had summer plans. Instead of working at a camp, he'd have attended a sports-focused camp as a regular camper. But he's excited to get to work!

Complete the earnings statement for a part-time summer job below. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

Complete the earnings statement for a part-time summer job below. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

The average teen with a summer job earns $8.55 per hour and works 20 hours a week. Fill in the gross income in the earnings statement.

The average teen with a summer job earns $8.55 per hour and works 20 hours a week. Fill in the gross income in the earnings statement.

Here are the taxes everyone pays and the rates as a percentage of salary. Multiply each percent by the gross income to add these taxes to the earnings statement:

Here are the taxes everyone pays and the rates as a percentage of salary. Multiply each percent by the gross income to add these taxes to the earnings statement:

    Social security tax: 6.2%

    Medicare tax: 1.45%

    Federal tax for part-time income: 10%

    Social security tax: 6.2%

    Medicare tax: 1.45%

    Federal tax for part-time income: 10%

A. Each state has its own income tax rate. Some states, like Texas, don’t tax your income. Others do, like California, which has a 2% tax on part-time income. What’s the difference in net income for the average teen in Texas and California?

A. Each state has its own income tax rate. Some states, like Texas, don’t tax your income. Others do, like California, which has a 2% tax on part-time income. What’s the difference in net income for the average teen in Texas and California?

B. Grayson will be working in New York State this summer, and he will pay a 4% state income tax. Fill in the New York State income tax in the earnings statement.

B. Grayson will be working in New York State this summer, and he will pay a 4% state income tax. Fill in the New York State income tax in the earnings statement.

C. Find the gross deductions by adding together all the deductions and add it to the earnings statement.

C. Find the gross deductions by adding together all the deductions and add it to the earnings statement.

Find the biweekly net income for an average teen with a summer job in New York State and add this value to the earnings statement.

Find the biweekly net income for an average teen with a summer job in New York State and add this value to the earnings statement.

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