The Virtues of a Summer Job

The Virtues of a Summer Job

The share of teenagers working summer jobs had dwindled for years, but the numbers have come back a bit in the last couple of years. It’s a change applauded by educators and financial advisers alike.

“Summer jobs are a great idea,” said Laura Levine, chief executive of the JumpStart Coalition, a nonprofit group that promotes financial literacy. “Money management begins with how to get that money in the first place.”

Working a summer job is less common among teenagers than it once was, according to an analysis published this month by the Pew Research Center. As recently as 2000, roughly half of those between the ages of 16 and 19 worked summer jobs, but that proportion dropped to about 30 percent during the financial crisis. Last summer, it rose to 35 percent.

This year, hiring of teenagers got off to a strong start in May, although the pace slowed slightly in June compared with last year. Still, the combined total of about 1.08 million jobs added for those two months is above average for the past decade, according to an analysis of federal data by the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Andrew Challenger, the firm’s vice president, said the longer-term trend away from summer jobs doesn’t mean young people are lazy. “Teens are still busy,” he said. They’re doing things like volunteering in hurricane-stricken areas, taking extra classes or honing their sports skills to burnish their college applications. They may be making a calculation, he said, that such experiences make more of an impression on college admissions staff than a summer job scooping ice cream.

Whether they’re working to help support their families, saving for college or building a fund for some other goal, young workers should have a plan for the money they earn, Ms. Levine said. Earning a steady paycheck for the first time can make teenagers feel “cash rich” and lead to overspending, she said. “It can disappear quickly.”

Read more at The New York Times