Teen Employment Rate Hits Biggest Low Since WWII
Less than three out of every 10 teens will work summer jobs
ANCHORAGE – While the summer jobs available to teens nationwide haven’t changed much over the generations, a historically low number of teens will pull a paycheck this year.
According to the U.S Department of Labor, less than three out of every 10 teenagers will work a summer job – the lowest rates since World War II.
Allie Evans, a student at South Anchorage High School, said the numbers surprised her.
“You’d think teenagers would want to go out and spend their money,” she said from the front lawn of the South Anchorage home where she worked as a nanny. “How can they do that if they don’t have a job?”
Evans’ work day began at 8:30 a.m. every Monday, and she said many other students she knew were hesitant to spend their summer vacations setting their alarm clocks that early. But Evans said she saw it as an inevitable next step.
“That’s real life,” she said.
For younger teenagers, workplace requirements sometimes presented another obstacle to pulling a summer paycheck. Kevin Vakalis, an umpire with Knik River Little League, said the league’s umpire program trained baseball enthusiasts to work games during the summer season. Most popular with kids and teenagers ages 12-16, Vakalis said the program taught invaluable skills like integrity, courage and work ethic.
It was a trait lacking in many teens today, he said.
“Kids feel entitled, that’s the problem today,” he said. “All the kids feel they deserve this or they’re owed that, and the reality is they need to learn to work for a living.”
Vakalis, who volunteers to lead the program, said it sees 30-50 participants every summer. For some, like 13-year-old Forest Parish, it is the first job they ever have. Even after the season ends, the head umpire said the skills learned often open the doors to steady work throughout the rest of the year.
Parish said despite its challenges, he was happy to be part of the shrinking number of teenagers punching the clock every summer.
“It helps you all through life,” he said.