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Published on August 30th, 2007 | by Alex and Brett Harris

Teens Don’t Have Jobs

Teens and jobs are fields apart“One girl’s work at a local farm makes her stand out — fewer and fewer have jobs at all.” Thus begins an intriguing profile of 16-year-old Patty Bochsler of Lonely Lane Farm. As other teens bake on the beach this August, she stands in steel-toed boots packing freshly butchered beef, pork and lamb in a 40-degee plant.

The article goes on to report that the number of working teens has reached a 60-year low and that 80 percent of young workers lack basic communication skills and 70 percent lack a work ethic. Scary numbers. What do you think?

Teens and jobs are fields apart – Julie Sullivan – 08/20/07

The proportion of working teens in Oregon has shrunk from 6 in every 10 in 2000 to just 4 in every 10 last year, according to the Census Bureau. That’s true across the country this summer, where the employment rate for teens has fallen even further, said Andrew Sum, who directs the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

The repercussions will play out for decades. Students with jobs are more likely to stay in school. And for 10 years, they earn more for every year they worked.

“Kids are working at a lower rate today than at anytime since just after World War II — a 60-year low,” says Sum, who studied teen employment for 30 years. “I consider this disastrous.”

Why aren’t more teens working?

Economists say they are squeezed out by immigrants, workers older than 55 and recent college graduates unable to find jobs. Big-box retailers, which have proliferated in the past seven years, don’t hire anyone younger than 18. And some ambitious kids — or their ambitious parents — choose academic camps or classes instead of job hunting.

But it turns out that nonworking teens might be hurting themselves. Employers reported 80 percent of their young workers lack basic communication skills and 70 percent lack a work ethic.

Read the entire article »

Once you have read the entire article come back here and join the conversation. At the bottom of this post you will find some discussion questions to get you started. Choose one or all of them and share your stories.

We would also encourage you to ask your parents about their job history. You’ll be surprised to hear about some the interesting places they’ve worked. As I was writing this post I decided to go and ask my father to share his job history with me and most of them caught me by surprise.

The Job History of Gregg Harris (Our Father)

His first job was at Burger Chef in Miamisburg, Ohio, at the age of 14. I didn’t know this. He told me that they were allowed to make whatever kind of burgers they wanted for their own meals. He would create monster cheeseburgers with 4-5 patties and cheese between each one.

His next job was at Union Concession Stands in Dayton, Ohio. After that he worked at the Paul Harris (no relation) clothing store back in Miamisburg. At the age of 16 he was a runaway in Clear Water Beach, Florida, working at a concession stand.

A few months later, at the age of 17, he was in southern California working as a restaurant and coffee house musician. At the age of eighteen was a member of professional band in Indianapolis, Indiana.

From that point on he has worked at Countryside Nursery in Centerville, Ohio, at an auto parts stripping factory, owned the Custom Terrarium & Houseplant Shop, served as a youth pastor for a year, pastored a missionary church in Harlingen, Texas, and was the senior pastor at Grace Fellowship in Dayton, Ohio.

Most of what I knew didn’t start until after all that, when he started Christian Life Workshops, founded Noble Institute for Leadership Development, founded and sold Noble Publishing Associates, and now pastors at Household of Faith Community Church in Gresham, Oregon.

Go Now, And Do Likewise

Maybe that was only interesting to me, but I have a feeling that you will find your own parent’s job histories immensely intriguing as well. So ask them! If you learn of anything particularly incredible go ahead and share it (with their permission, of course) in the comment section. Also, don’t forget the discussion questions directly below. May God bless you all. Do Hard Things.

  • Did you have a job this summer? Why or why not?
  • Tell us about the best (or worst) job you’ve ever had. What did you learn from the experience?
  • Hypothetical Situation: If (God forbid) one of your parents was injured and unable to work and you were forced to help provide for your family, what skills do you have that could help generate an income?


About the Author

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.

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