The vanishing teenage worker in the united states

Jeremy Staff, Nayan Ramirez, Kelsey Cundiff

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


Whereas just twenty years ago holding a part-time job while in full-time education was considered a rite of passage among teenagers in the United States, youth nowadays are much less likely to be employed while attending school. Is the drop in school-year employment among US teenagers, especially in the aftermath of the Great Recession, a cause for concern? In this chapter, we use data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 to assess whether work experiences during the school year adversely affect early educational and socioeconomic outcomes such as test scores, time spent on homework and extracurricular activities, career aspirations, and educational expectations. Results confirm a sharp decline in teenage employment during the school year, as only 46 percent of youth had worked by the spring of the 11th grade. Among working teenagers, those who averaged intensive hours during the school year (i.e., more than twenty hours per week; about 11 percent of youth) had significantly lower test scores and educational expectations compared to their nonworking counterparts. However, youth who worked moderately showed no significant declines in socioeconomic achievement and in fact were more likely to participate in extracurricular activities and spend more time doing homework than their nonworking peers. Furthermore, teens who worked intensively were less likely than nonworking youth to be uncertain about their future career plans. These positive effects of work will be lost if teenage employment in the USA continues to disappear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationYoung People's Development and the Great Recession
Subtitle of host publicationUncertain Transitions and Precarious Futures
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781316779507
ISBN (Print)9781107172975
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


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