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A high school job leads to higher pay later in life

A recent study says if you don't work as a teen, you'll likely earn less and find it more difficult to secure a job as an adult.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 23, 2014 12:46PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyTeens used to spend their hours after school and their summer vacations flipping burgers, bagging groceries, mowing lawns, busing tables and washing dishes. It was an American rite of passage -- one that's slowly dying out.

Fast-food worker © Creatas/PictureQuestAccording to The New York Times, 45 percent of American teens (ages 16 to 19) were working in 2000. In 2013, that number dropped to 25 percent.

Since 1948, the percentage of teenagers in the workforce had stayed relatively flat at 40 percent or so, dropping to 37 percent in the mid-1960s and rising to a high of 48.5 in 1979. But that trend began to reverse in the early 2000s and never rebounded, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The trend holds true when looking solely at summertime employment.

This is a trend with some unfortunate long-term implications. A recent study (.pdf file) by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program found that it's more difficult to find a job as an adult if you didn't work during your teen years. What's more, the study said that people who joined the workforce as a teen earn 10 to 15 percent more than those who didn't work, when they graduate from college.

The Times said there are several reasons why teens aren't working these days:

  • Unable to find a job.
  • Participation in pre-college summer programs.
  • Summer school.
  • Year-round sports activities.
  • Community service work.
  • Unpaid internships.

The Brookings Institution's study seems to confirm the findings of a study published by Drexel University’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy in 2013. The study said high school work experience not only corresponds to an increase in salary a decade later, it also predicts future employment as an adult. The study said:

While working certainly has the ability to bolster the consumption of teens and their families, working at an early age generates a set of additional and longer lasting benefits that are manifest in improved lifetime employment and earnings outcomes as well as improved educational attainment outcomes.

My first formal job (I started baby-sitting at age 11) was working at my hometown movie theater when I was 15. I worked there through high school. It paid minimum wage, but had a fun perk -- free movies.

In addition to giving me the money to put gas in my car and buy makeup, clothes and other teenage girl stuff, that job also provided a glimpse of what my life would be like as an adult.

I had my first nerve-wracking job interview, worked side by side with a chauvinistic boss I didn't like, dealt with customers who were upset that I didn't put enough butter on their popcorn, had thousands of dollars pass through my hands in an hour as I sold hundreds of people their movie tickets, all while dealing with co-workers who were lazy or didn't show up on time, if at all. It was great real-world experience.

What was the lasting value of your high school job?

More from Money Talks News

Jun 28, 2014 8:34AM

Before I was 16 years old, I mowed lawns, raked leaves, and shoveled snow for a few bucks. I also delivered newspapers and did landscaping.

You can't blame the economy for today's kids not working. In 1976 and 1977, jobs were not plentiful. I remember double digit inflation and high interest rates. I blame the parents of today for coddling their kids. It's no wonder most don't want to work.

Jun 28, 2014 7:24AM

According to recent news stories, minimum wage jobs are no longer for teens. They are careers now and demand higher wages!

Jun 28, 2014 9:14AM
Hard to find a high school job when illegals and other non skilled people have made careers of working fast food joints. And with liberals pushing for double figure($15 an hour) wages for these types of minimal jobs. Why go to college? The liberal government will subsidize whatever else is needed.
Jun 28, 2014 8:42AM
My neighbor has two boys, 15 and 17. He has to hire another neighbor's boy to mow the lawn. 
Jun 28, 2014 11:49AM
When I was 16 my parents told me I needed to get a job (I worked at Burger King). My parents were fairly well off and I didn't want for anything. It wasn't about the money, it was about learning responsibility and the value of a $1. It seems so many parents today don't understand the importance of that.
Jun 28, 2014 12:17PM
To me, summer jobs were priceless.  Learned that I did not want to do these jobs the rest of my life and the value of money.   More than anything, learned how to schedule and nothing is free.  Do your best and you will succeed.
Jun 23, 2014 2:44PM
Why should teens find a job when too many parents give their kids everything or they grow up in a house where nobody works because the government provides everything they need?
Jun 28, 2014 10:06AM

When I was in High School I worked part time for what I needed

which of course was Milkbones, my parents supplied my other

needs...Just saying...Work builds responsibility and character.

Jun 28, 2014 2:34PM
Oh so yes to this article!   I was lucky my parents could afford me a nice cushy and comfy lifestyle.  However, from the age of 12, I was working part time.  I thought I had the "worst and meanest" parents ever since most of my friends did not have to work EVER!  However, years later, some of these millenials are clueless as to what they want to do in life.  This is such an important lesson for all children.  I learned how to budget and manage money from this experience.  I babysat at 12, worked at an ice cream store at 14 (my mom actually drove me to the store), Victoria Secret during my teen years.  I actually learned "how to work," and something about how businesses operate.  Most important - I learned the value of a "dollar." 

Jun 28, 2014 7:22AM
 Just the fact  a high school job needs an explanation says it all. Another generation of  loser kids raised by parents who were loser kids. They see how mom and dad live on credit cards and how they  continually run to grandpa and grandma for money and help, so what's the big deal? When you get out of high school and you want something use credit cards, any problems,  ask grandma for money and just move in with them.
Jun 28, 2014 6:11AM
25% kids with a job is alarming.  Both my kids have a source of income besides me.
Jun 28, 2014 12:17PM

Too many parasites in the system now, sponging off the rest of us, getting a free ride.

Some of us work for a living

Some of us vote ourselves a living

2016 End of an Error.

Are you kidding, there is no kid going to work for Min. wage. They are better than that.
Jun 28, 2014 11:17AM

Kids are lazy today; if mom & dad don't give them what they want then they just steal it. As for the illegals taking all the minimum wage jobs I think it should be mandatory that every employer use E-Verify. II think the federal government should issue new SS cards to everybody with all the information encrypted so only the rightful owner of the card knows the correct answers. This would certainly slow down the illegals from using fake SS cards to get a job.

Jun 28, 2014 12:41PM

With al the excuses and whining why high school students don't have enough time to work, those are the values that have helped put this country in the mess we're in.

Change coming in 2014.

Bigger change coming in 2016.

Jun 28, 2014 2:56PM

"The Times said there are several reasons why teens aren't working these days"

#1 Unable to find a job. Answer: Seek, and yee shall find.

#2 Participation in pre-college summer programs. Answer: Participate in finding a job instead. Table tennis and golf will still be available if and when teens actually get to college.

#3 Summer school. Answer: Apply yourself throughout the regular school year instead.

#4 Year round sports activities. Answer: Work is year round as well. Which one is more likely to pay the bills and put food on the table?

#5 Community service work. Answer: Very important. Will give teens a pass on this one.

#6 Unpaid internships. Answer: This is something that needs to be changed immediately. Pay interns at the VERY least, minimum wage. After all, interns are the exact same as an Apprentice in any Trade.

Jun 28, 2014 2:04PM
When my daughter was 7 she went out with her grandfather and mended barbed wire fence. She put on the gloves and twised the wire. She and her brothers worked pulling weeds or anything else to make a few bucks.  She and them then worked through highschool and college.  That 7 year old girl is has a masters in economic geology and is chief geologist of a large Copper mine.  If your kids do not learn a strong work ethic and self discipline,  they will be failures as adults.
To be honest you hardly see any teens around here even in fast food, it's not that there aren't jobs but a lot of places won't hire them anymore. They'd rather hire older folks who don't need special hours to work. I'm not sure i'd want to hire a teenager in this day and age, seems more trouble than it's worth. I'd rather pay a bit more for someone with experience and a work ethic.
Jun 28, 2014 10:56AM
Illegals have swamped the low end job market, taking opportunities from American teen agers.
Jun 28, 2014 8:34AM
alcohol and calculus don't mix.never drink and derive.

yo' mama is so old,when she was in school,they didn't have history.

yo' mama is so old,she has a picture of Moses in her yearbook.

son: dad! i got a part in the school play! i play the husband.
   dad: too bad they didn't give you a speaking role.

if at first you don't succeed,skydiving is definitely not for you.

why did the scientist install a knocker on his door? to win the no-bell prize.

knock knock.
who's there?
diploma who?
diploma is here to fix the sink.

dad,i'm going to a party.would you do my homework for me?
   i'm sorry kid,but it just wouldn't be right.
   well,maybe not.give it a try anyway.

did you hear about the cannibal who was expelled from school?he was buttering up his teacher.
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