Teenage unemployment at 25.5% has worse consequences than just the lack of a minimum wage paycheck for the kids.
When I was a teenager, I worked at a local hardware store a few nights a week after high school. I was a stock boy and then a cashier. My co-workers were miserable people, stuck in a rut and uninterested in learning anything or doing anything new. My friends from school would show up, load up a shopping cart with items from every aisle in the store, and then leave it in front of my register as a prank, so that I would have to put every single product back where it came from as they cracked up in the parking lot. And I was paid 6 bucks an hour for that aggravation.
Sound like a useless job?
Guess what…it was the most valuable job I ever had. Because it made me ambitious and it helped me to never take for granted the opportunity I had to work on Wall Street. I couldn’t imagine ever spending another minute there once I was done, and I made damn sure to work hard so as not to ever be back.
That’s why I’m pretty bothered by the fact that teenage unemployment is now at a record high since data began to be collected on this stuff:
From the New York Times:
This August, the teenage unemployment rate — that is, the percentage of teenagers who wanted a job who could not find one — was 25.5 percent, its highest level since the government began keeping track of such statistics in 1948. Likewise, the percentage of teenagers over all who were working was at its lowest level in recorded history.
I pity the high school-aged student now, who barely has the chance to get that menial job that galvanizes his way of thinking for the future.
Unfortunately, some of the only opportunities available for the kids now are homework-for-a-fee, selling weed and concert ticket scalping…and oh yeah, McDonalds is probably hiring too.