When I say my teen won’t get a job this summer, I know what you’re thinking.
He’s lazy. Or I spoil him. Or teens today are so entitled.
But the truth of why my teen won’t get a job this summer is much more complicated. I can tell you my son, who is turning 15 soon, is eager to work. He wants to earn money towards purchasing a car or saving for a better phone. And I certainly don’t want him to spend the next few months sleeping in and playing Fortnite or other video games all day.
But for a myriad of reasons, my teen won’t get a part-time job this summer—much like the majority of teens today.
According to Pew Institute, “for younger teens, the summer-jobs picture is especially bleak. In 2014, summer employment rate for 16- to 17-year-olds was 20%, less than half its level as recently as 2000.”
Where did all the teen workers go? And why exactly won’t my son get a summer job?
First, his age is an issue.
As an almost 15-year-old, he is limited in the number of hours he can work, a protective measure of the Fair Labor Standards Act and most state’s youth labor laws. Kids as young as 14 can get a job where we live but cannot work past seven p.m. on school nights and nine p.m. during the summer. However, teens ages 16 and up have much more flexibility with the hours they can work. When my son asked if the grocery stores, superstores, and fast food restaurants in town were hiring, they were—but only teens ages 16 and up.
There is also the issue of transportation.
My son is too young to drive. If he found a part-time job at a restaurant or store, it would need to be close and safe enough where he could walk, bike, scooter, or, heck, even teleport there. His dad and I work in another town and can’t drive him.
But the biggest impediment to getting a summer job might be his participation in high school sports.
Indeed, high school athletics are now year-round commitments, including for my son’s chosen sport, ice hockey. This summer, there are team strength and conditioning workouts in the gym three days a week, games on Monday nights in a summer league in a neighboring town, and at least one other weekday on-ice practice.
In all, there are five different team activities at various times across three days of the week. It’s no wonder with his age and limited transportation that my son will not be hired by any employer this summer.
But lest you think he’ll alternate between playing ice hockey and Fortnite the next few months, he has joined forces with a neighborhood pal to offer lawn care. This will allow him to work around his hockey schedule and also solves the age and transportation issues.
So, if you are looking for a couple of strong, cheap teenagers to mow your grass or prune your trees, give them a call. If you’re in walking distance, of course.
And maybe he’ll attain that traditional summer job next year when he’s 16. Well, if it is nearby and can accommodate his hockey schedule, that is.