Why Aren't Our Teens Working Like They Used To?

I still remember my very first job. I worked in the rides department at the now demolished Six Flags Astroworld. I didn’t work at a real ride per se – I worked on the railroad. It was arguably the most boring attraction at the amusement park. I made 25 cents above minimum wage and thanks to the hot Houston sun, got a tan that led to people constantly walking up to me and speaking Spanish.

The job taught me one very important lesson about adulthood: Working sucks.

I hated many of my lazy co-workers, disliked many of the entitlement patrons even more, and realized just how quickly you can go broke after receiving a paycheck. On my second job at another now demolished movie theater – which only lasted a day – I realized that if I’m going to be paid to do a job I hate it had better pay well.


These are very important life lessons to have and it’s a shame the economy has hindered millions of teens from accumulating such knowledge.

The Labor Department reports that the unemployment rate for teenagers soared to 27.6%. And according to their statistics, the participation rate – teens who do work – fell to 36.2%. That’s the lowest since record keeping began in 1948.

Why can’t teenagers find work? It’s on you, sir and ma’am.

CNN Money says:

The surge in unemployment among 16 to 19 year-olds comes as the weak economy has forced a growing number of adults to compete for jobs that teens normally fill in industries such as retail and food service.


That's a big problem for teens, who are generally seen as less qualified than adults because they have fewer years of work experience.

At the same time, older workers with families and mortgages typically elicit more sympathy from employers than teens, who are seen as mostly interested in pocket money.


Thus many teens have given up looking for a job altogether. However, we now run the potential of an entire generation disconnected from the employment market. Where will that lead our youth?

Probably spending a lot of time on MySpace, YouTube, and studying Soulja Boy and Nicki Minaj. If you don’t know who the latter is – hit Google. Then be afraid.


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Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.

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