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While unemployment sits at a 17-year low, teen workers might have a hard time appreciating this as they try finding summer jobs this year.
American teens aged between 16 and 19 years old added almost 1.3 million jobs during May, June, and July in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was in line with averages since 2006, reported MarketWatch, but the numbers for that period are nearly 4 percent lower than the same period in 2016.
As for this summer, don’t expect a change. The staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas anticipates summer employment increases for teens will stay dormant. This aligns with research from the Drexel University Center for Labor Markets and Policy, which estimates that 30.9 percent of teens will have summer jobs this year, up from 2017’s 30.5 percent.
If teens aren’t faring well in this low unemployment environment, then who is? Many jobs typically filled by teens are now going to foreign-born and older workers, especially in the hospitality and retail sectors, reported Drexel. Part of this comes as these workers have desired behavioral traits including showing up to work on time or having experience interacting with customers—skills that teens need now as well as in the future when they join the workforce full time after college.
Loss of Potential Savings
But there’s more to the story. In the short-term, teens not obtaining summer jobs are not only losing out on spending money but also missing an opportunity to save for college. In fact, half of high school students surveyed for a Junior Achievement study had less than $5,000 saved for college. And for many, this hurts for a while.
A recent Prudential study showed that 44 percent of graduates with student debt wished they’d saved more; 34 percent wished they had worked more to pay for college; and 22 percent had wished they had selected a more affordable school, reported NBC News. The average college graduate carries $27,975 in student loans.
While these findings might be discouraging, it’s not too late for teens to avoid these regrets if they are proactive. Here are some expert tips.
Set a budget: Students will see where their money goes and where they need to pull back. Set a financial savings goal for college. With leftover money each week in the budget, put that toward the college fund.
Participate in dual enrollment: Find courses from local community colleges that can earn college credit while still in high school. These courses are funded by the Department of Education. This enables students to jump-start their college experience while not paying for more courses down the road.
Once in school, take an on-campus job: Colleges and universities offer many on-campus positions and opportunities from work-study programs. While still focusing on studies, an at-school job can help alleviate money worries, add structure, and provide opportunities to learn soft skills.
Author: Mike Brown
In his role at LendEDU, Mike uses data, usually from surveys and publicly-available resources, to identify emerging personal finance trends and tell unique stories. Mike’s work, featured in major outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, provides consumers with a personal finance measuring stick and can help them make informed finance decisions.