Got a teenager? Getting a summer job is harder than ever

While the number of teenagers looking for summertime employment has decreased over the past years, finding a job in the 2010 recession is nearly impossible.

One reason for the summertime job blues points directly to the immigrants who have come to the country, both illegally and legally. Many are taking jobs traditionally obtained by teens in years past.

The scarcity of jobs for the 16-19 year-olds has prompted many teenagers in America to stop looking for employment altogether. In 1994 approximately two-thirds of American teenagers joined the summertime work force; however the number has dropped to less than 50 percent.

During the same time, the number of legal and illegal immigrants holding a job has doubled.

The Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington D.C. think tank, found evidence that indicates “immigration accounts for a significant share of the decline in teen labor force participation. The decline in teen work is worrisome because research shows that those who do not hold jobs as teenagers often fail to develop the work habits necessary to function in the labor market, creating significant negative consequences for them later in life.”

The CIS report uncovered a number of summertime employment facts;

• The summer of 2009 was the worst summer ever experienced by U.S.-born teenagers (16-19) since citizenship data was first collected in 1994. Just 45 percent were in the labor force, which means they worked or were looking for work. Only one-third actually held a job.

• Even before the current recession, the summer labor force participation of U.S.-born teenagers was deteriorating. Between the summers of 1994 and 2000, a period of significant economic expansion, the labor force participation of U.S.-born teens actually declined from 64 percent to 61 percent.

• After 2000, the summer labor force participation of U.S.-born teenagers declined from 61 percent to 48 percent by 2007. Thus even before the current recession fewer teens were in the labor force.

• Teen unemployment — the share looking for a job — has also tended to rise somewhat over time. But the big decline has been in the share of teenagers who are looking for work.

• The number of U.S.-born teenagers not in the labor force increased from 4.7 million in 1994 to 8.1 million in 2007. In the summer of 2009 it stood at 8.8 million.

• The severity of the decline is similar for U.S.-born black, Hispanic, and white teens. Between 1994 and 2007 the summer labor force participation of black teens declined from 50 to 35 percent; for Hispanic teens from 52 to 37 percent; and for whites it declined 69 to 55 percent.

• The fall-off is also similar for U.S.-born teenagers from both high- and low-income households.

• Immigrants and teenagers often do the same kind of work. In the summer of 2007, in the 10 occupations employing the most U.S.-born teenagers, one in five workers was an immigrant.

• Between 1994 and 2007, in occupations where teenage employment declined the most, immigrants made significant job gains.

• Comparisons across states in 2007 show that in the 10 states where immigrants are the largest share of workers, just 45 percent of U.S.-born teens were in the summer labor force, compared to 58 percent in the 10 states where immigrants are the smallest share of workers.

• Looking at change over time shows that in the 10 states where immigrants increased the most as a share of workers, labor force participation of U.S.-born teenagers declined 17 percentage points. In the 10 states where immigrants increased the least, teen labor force participation declined 9 percent.

• We also find that, on average, a 10 percentage-point increase in the immigrant share of a state’s work force from 1994 to 2007 reduced the labor force participation rate of U.S.-born teenagers by 7.9 percentage points.

• The most likely reason immigrants displace U.S.-born teenagers is that the vast majority of immigrants are fully developed adults — relatively few people migrate before age 20. This gives immigrants a significant advantage over U.S.-born teenagers who typically have much less work experience.

• The labor force participation of immigrant teenagers has also declined, though it was low even in the early 1990s. This along with the similar decline for U.S.-born teens from all racial and income backgrounds supports the idea that the arrival of so many adult immigrants, who work at the kinds of jobs traditionally done by teenagers, crowds all teenagers out of the labor force, both U.S.-born and foreign-born.

• Summer is the focus of this report; however, the decline in the employment of U.S.-born teenagers is year-round, including a decline during the other peak period of seasonal employment at Christmas.

• Although there is good evidence that immigration is reducing teenage labor market participation, other factors have likely also contributed to this problem.

• One factor that does not explain the decline is an increase in unpaid internships among U.S.-born teenagers.

• First, 19-year-old high school dropouts show a similar decline as 19-year-olds who attend college — dropouts are very unlikely to be in unpaid internships.

• Second, 16- and 17-year-olds show the same decline as 18- and 19-year-olds, even though younger teens are much less likely to be in internships.

• Third, teenagers who come from low-income families show the same decline as teenagers from high-income families. But research shows that unpaid internships are much more common for higher-income teenagers.

• Fourth, according to Princeton Review’s Internship Bible, there are only about 100,000 internships (paid and unpaid) in the country. The increase in U.S.-born teenagers not in the labor force was 3.4 million between 1994 and 2007.

For more details in the report click here;

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About thekdreport

Investigative journalist

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