Most American youth hold a job at some point during adolescence, but should they work? This article presents a broad overview of teenage employment in the United States. It begins by describing which teenagers work and for how long and then focuses attention on the consequences (both good and bad) of paid work in adolescence. It then presents recent nationally representative data from the Monitoring the Future Study suggesting that limited hours of paid work do not crowd out developmentally appropriate after-school activities. A review of the literature also supports the idea that employment for limited hours in good jobs can promote career readiness and positive development. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of youth work for practitioners and policymakers who are delivering career-related programming.
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