Pros and Cons of Teen Part-Time Employment

You might be surprised that many teens have part-time jobs. Some may have jobs as “baby sitters,” work for their family’s businesses or do lawn services. Many work for employers in retail, fast-food and in other ventures. According to the August, 2011, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Labor, 25.4% of teens, ages 16 to 19 held part-time or full-time jobs. About 10% of 15 year olds worked and predictably, this number increases with age, specific to the laws established for child labor. The minimal age for non-agricultural employment is 16. However, 14 and 15-year-olds may be employed for certain periods, outside of school hours, in jobs that do not interfere with their health and well-being. Teenagers 16 and older may work at any time of the day for unlimited hours. The percentage of working teens increase during the summer months, and more would work if the jobs were available during this current, poor job market.

In 2008, I conducted an anonymous questionnaire on teens in high school and in college freshmen classes. Among other information sought, were questions on their work experience as teens. Lets look at my findings reported by high school and first-year college students, comprising 178 high school and 155 college students. For the first year college students, six out of ten students (60%) indicated they had part-time employment during their high school years, with a slightly higher percent of males than females recalling work experiences. Lazy teens? I don’t think so. The data speaks for itself.

The questions for high school students were slightly different, in that I further explored the number of hours worked per week; (1) 10 hours or less; (2) 11 to 15 hours; (3) 16 to 20 hours and (4) 21 hours or more.

First lets look at the percentage of high school students who worked part-time jobs. Males: 50%; Females: 25%; Total Sample: 38%

Now let’s look at how many hours the high school students work. Males: 1. 52%; 2. 23%; 3. 11% 4. 14%

Females: 1. 78%; 2. 18%; 3. 4%; 4. 0%

Clearly, one can surmise that males worked part-time jobs at a higher percentage than females, and also worked longer hours. There appeared to be no clear pattern as teens progressed from freshman to senior status in the number of hours worked, except for slight acceleration in hours for females. Contemporary teens are not lazy.

Disadvantages for part-time teen workers:

Numerous studies have been done to explore the negative impact of part-time work on teens. Some findings reported increased behavioral problems, insufficient sleep, not enough leisure, propensity toward drug use, drops in school performance, and increased psychological distress. Research consistently reported a relationship between the number of hours worked and disadvantages to the teen. The more hours a week a teen works above ten hours per week, the greater the perils for teens.

Advantages for part-time teen workers:

The advantages reported may be factors such as greater interest in school, less delinquency, increase in internal motivation, development of work values, adult supervision (often with both parents working, the part-time job affords the teen supervision), and less depression.


Look around you when you when you go to the mall, the grocery store, the car wash, the movie theater, the restaurants, and other venues; and you will see teens working. We should monitor the positive and negative effects of teen employment.

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