Generation Hopeless: An Analysis of Teens in the Workplace

       Teenagers in the workplace are becoming increasingly rare. From the 1950s to 2000, between 45 and 60% of teenagers had summer jobs. Now, that number has shrunk to just 25%, and is still declining. It’s not that teens are getting lazier; in fact the percentage of “idle teens” is dropping as well, according to a 2010 analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. With more people going to college, more students are enrolling in summer school, taking prep courses, or focusing on sports during the summer. From 9th grade, usually earlier, almost everything teens do is geared towards getting into college, or getting a scholarship. With that focus shifted, not many teens are getting jobs. Many people think that this will be a good thing for customer service.

       With a rising unemployment rate all over the country, older people are willing to take the part-time minimum wage jobs that teenagers usually get. It’s good that they are getting employed, don’t get me wrong, but if we get a few years down the road, we’re going to have an entire population of 20-25 year-olds or college graduates that have never had a job, which makes it even harder for them to get jobs, just adding to the ever-increasing unemployment rate.

       A lot of people walk into a store with preconceived notions about employees and/or customer service. One of those is that teenagers are rude and unhelpful. While this is sometimes true, if you don’t give them the chance to be nice, how can they? As a teenager myself, I can say that a lot of people misjudge us. I can honestly say that a lot of the teenaged cashiers at Target are much friendlier and more polite than the older adults working there. Considering how hard it is to get a job in this economy, you would think that the teenagers who do have a job would be more grateful. Many adults say that teenagers take things for granted, which I think is true, but we don’t know how hard it is to find a full-time career after graduating from college. We haven’t lost anything yet to make us more grateful for what we have, but maybe a little more understanding on both parts would be appreciated.

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