Why Are Fewer Teens Working In Michigan This Summer?

Ah, the summer job! Much like school dances and Friday night lights, it’s a rite of passage for most teenagers, when you first dip your toes into a “real job” and start earning some “real money” for the first time.

Teenagers usually find their first jobs in seasonal things like restaurants, hotels, retail shops, and recreation. But what if that doesn’t happen? In Michigan this summer fewer teens are expected to have a job. That's got some people asking, “why?”

Here are Five Fast Facts about teen summer jobs in Michigan:

  1. 📉 Numbers Are Down - The unemployment rate in Michigan is about 4%. This is good news but it means less jobs for teenage summertime workers. This isn’t new, btw: last year the percentage of teenage workers in the state was just over 41% which is a big drop down from 62% in 2000. That’s a lot of unfilled jobs!
  1. 🔍 Fewer Of Them - One of the reasons: Michigan has less teenagers. From 2000 to 2020 the number of teens dropped by over 10% (that’s 60k teenagers)! So it’s not that they’re too busy scrolling IG and TikTok to get a job (at least not entirely).
  1. 🏫 More School - Another reason is that more teens are using summer classes to catch up (or get ahead) on their schoolwork. It’s happening all over the state! One example is Grand Rapids, where around 20% of its total students are in classes this summer. That’s about the same amount as last year, but it’s 2.5 times higher than pre-pandemic numbers. I guess virtual school wasn’t all that great (though any parent could have told you that).
  1. 👷🩲 Participation Rate - The teen labor participation rate – the number of teens who are working, out of the number who are simply of working age – is 39%, just a bit higher than the national average of 36%. Could be worse!
  1. 💪 Programs - There are programs to help encourage teens to get into the workforce, both as teens and to prepare them for the workforce as adults. Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates is one of those programs, providing aid and career counseling for dropouts, as well as job placement after graduation. We just gotta’ capture ‘em and get ‘em going in the right direction!

🔥Bottom line: If teenagers don’t fill those seasonal jobs, the whole state suffers. Not only are businesses left short-handed, but the numbers prove teens themselves are much better off if they enter the workforce early in life. Education is important, for sure, but it seems like there have to be some other solutions.

What do you think should be done about this?

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