Fewer American teens are working than ever, according to government statistics.
In July, the unemployment rate for those between the ages of 16 and 19 was 16.3 percent. This was a decrease from 17.1 percent in July 2015, but still more than triple of the rate of that of all Americans.
The unemployment rate, however, is not where the full impact is shown— it is shown in a related figure, called the labor force participation rate.
In July, only 35.2 percent of teens were actively looking for work. As recently as 2001, over half of teens were in the labor force, which makes this figure look paltry.
It is believed that the desire of parents for their teens to engage in activities that are perceived to be better for their futures is a big reason for the sudden decline. Volunteering, test-prep classes, and specialized camps are believed to have taken up the slack for these bygone jobs.
The fact that college costs have far outpaced increases in the minimum wage on a national level has also contributed to this trend.
Past studies had found that teenagers can reduce their risk of committing crime and increase future earnings by working during high school, although these benefits are believed to have decreased in recent years.
With a much more competitive workplace nowadays, it might be smarter to take on a more fulfilling opportunity with a longer-term orientation.