College & Workforce Readiness

Teenagers Likely to Face Tough Summer-Job Search

By Jessica L. Tonn — June 14, 2005 2 min read

Teenagers looking for work this summer will face one of the toughest job markets in history, a report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University projects.

The report predicts that the proportion of employed 16- to 19-year-olds will be 36.7 percent, down from 45 percent in 2000. If the projections for this summer are accurate, the teenage employment rate will be only a slight improvement over last year’s 36.1 percent, the lowest in the past 57 years.

“I’m not trying to be pessimistic,” said Andrew Sum, an economics professor at Northeastern, located in Boston, and one of the study’s authors, “but kids aren’t getting the jobs.”

Similarly, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 17.9 percent of teenagers were unemployed and actively seeking work in May, up from 17.2 one year ago. In May 2000, 12.5 percent of teenagers were looking for work.

Adult Competition

“Despite strong job growth in the nation over the past 20 months, teens have been unable to capture any substantive share of the new employment opportunities,” the Northeastern study reports.

Many factors contribute to the bleak outlook, experts say.

Renee Ward, the founder of, a Web site that posts job opportunities for youths, noted that “teens are at the low end of the [employment] ladder.”

Many firms are more interested in hiring older workers, she said. A surge in retired workers entering the workforce has increased the competition for many of the retail and hospitality jobs that have gone to teenagers historically.

Competition from recent college graduates who are unable to find work in the career labor market also hurts teenage job seekers, Mr. Sum said.

According to his research, 50 percent of recent college graduates are performing jobs that do not require a college degree.

Mr. Sum also argued that an increase in immigrant labor over the past several years has affected teenagers’ job prospects. Many firms staff up on immigrant labor early in the summer, when most students are still in school, he said.

For many teenagers, finding a summer job means more than just keeping busy.

Of the 3,000 teenagers surveyed by, 52 percent said they wanted jobs in order to make money to help support their families or to pay for college.

And the teenagers who most need to work often do not.

Last summer, 22 percent of urban black teenagers living in low-income households were employed, the Northeastern study says. In contrast, nearly 63 percent of white teenagers from families earning more than $100,000 in nonurban areas were employed in the same period.

Related Tags:


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
Meeting the Moment: Accelerating Equitable Recovery and Transformative Change
Educators are deciding how best to re-establish routines such as everyday attendance, rebuild the relationships for resilient school communities, and center teaching and learning to consciously prioritize protecting the health and overall well-being of students
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Addressing Learning Loss: What Schools Need to Accelerate Reading Instruction in K-3
When K-3 students return to classrooms this fall, there will be huge gaps in foundational reading skills. Does your school or district need a plan to address learning loss and accelerate student growth? In this
Content provided by PDX Reading

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
College & Workforce Readiness Whitepaper
Prepare Students with Work-Based Learning
Download this toolkit to learn how your school or district can build community partnerships to provide students with access to real-world...
Content provided by Naviance
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion An Economist Explains How to Make College Pay
Rick Hess speaks with Beth Akers about practical advice regarding how to choose a college, what to study, and how to pay for it.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says College Enrollment Dip Hits Students of Color the Hardest
The pandemic led to a precipitous decline in enrollment for two-year schools, while four-year colleges and universities held steady.
3 min read
Conceptual image of blocks moving forward, and one moving backward.
College & Workforce Readiness Letter to the Editor How We Can Improve College-Completion Rates
Early- and middle-college high schools have the potential to improve college completion rates, says this letter to the editor.
1 min read