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3 Reasons Why Our Teenagers Can’t Find Jobs

And why this is terrible for America.

Bonnie Ramthun


December 9, 2013 - 10:30 am
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The employment rate among teenagers is incredibly dismal. I know this firsthand, since I have teens at home and teenage nieces and nephews who cannot find work. There’s an irritating theme that runs through family conversations about our unemployed teens, and the words I hear most often are “lazy” and “entitled.”

“I had a paper route when I was their age,” one of the older members of the family will tell me every time we get together. “They need to get out and hustle. Walk the neighborhood, mow lawns, weed gardens. There’s lots of jobs out there for teens.”

“They should get roofing jobs,” another family member exclaimed. “When I was a teenager in high school, the dreamiest guys were the summertime roofers since they had the most gorgeous tans. And they had the best bodies, too!”

The attitude towards teens today is one of disdain for the luxuries they enjoy and their lack of a good work ethic. Teens are spoiled, lazy, and unwilling to work hard.  Do you believe this?


Listen up, older people. The world isn’t the same now as it was then, and that’s not good. Not good for our teens and not good for our future. The days of the paper route are gone.  Here are the three reasons why teens can’t get jobs today, and why this is terrible for America.

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Top Rated Comments   
1) Yes. The "teenager" jobs are taken up by adults because unemployment is so high. The baggers at the grocery store are grown ups. (Unless you live in North Dakota.)

3) Yes... sorta. It makes a difference that laws require a certain wage. What makes more of a difference are laws that make it near impossible to hire a teen younger than 16 for anything. The ideal window for a first job is probably 12. At 12 kids are highly motivated to gain that little bit of autonomy and earn some money of their own. By 16 they should already have some good work habits and history. We make it near *illegal* for them to do this.

2) And it's not illegals... sorry. Again, it's legal liability. Are you going to let teenagers up on your roof? Ever? For *anything*? Do you really want teens (or those 12 year olds) running a lawn mower on your property? My friends did things like topping corn... now it's illegal to let them run a bread slicer until they're 18.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now hear this!!! We had our own family business. Then came the "lawful requirements" imposed by the State of California...Requirements that financially were outrageous and totally not reflected to a SMALL operation. We hired teens to work and we taught them a "life time job". We did leave some go for lack of application. But on the whole they worked to our satisfaction. It was the no brain statutes passed to collect more and more taxes and reflected the lack of knowledge by the legislature about the running of a business. That is what is breaking the small business..The small business that was the ground school for teaching young people trades that will carry them to a better future.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Indeed, this article describes what I'm seeing all around me every day. The oldsters complain about teens being spoiled and lazy and addicted to all their electronic gadgets, and this may all be true, but it's also irrelevant. The real problem is that for every reason you mentioned (and then some), THERE ARE NO ENTRY-LEVEL JOBS. Period.

There are no paper routes, no roofing jobs, no carpeting jobs, no fast food jobs, no jobs pumping gas, no jobs at the cinema, no jobs for teens, period; even a lot of adults can't get these jobs. What the minimum wage laws and salutory neglect toward illegal immigration haven't destroyed, the government busybodies are rapidly regulating to death. As noted elsewhere on this site, sophisticated machines will soon be replacing fast food workers, and very few workers will be needed to operate and maintain those machines. I also strongly suspect this is not the only field in which machines will eventually replace humans.

My proposed solution? Deregulate, throw the government nannies out, and abolish those evil minimum wage laws. This is for the short term. For the long term, start training teens how to make a living off of the machines; somebody still has to build and own and operate them, you know, in addition to repairing and maintaining them. With all the gadgets kids are using these days, this kind of technical training shouldn't be too difficult for them to master.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (97)
All Comments   (97)
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The value of a job is related to how much education it takes to perform the job. If you can learn it in a few minutes, it's a minimum wage [and knowledge] job.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would like to add one example of the difference between at least some American youths and those who come LEGALLY from another country:

My step-son arrived from P.R. China this past June 2013. He is 22, but was in a similar situation as most American teens, and certainly American college students. Although he has a college degree, it is in "Japanese language and culture" -- a degree promoted by the Chinese government, but which held no job potential even in China, and less here in the U.S.

He has absolutely no work experience. And, not growing up in US, he has developed absolutely no work ethic (protestant or otherwise). Like a lot of American Teens, he has spent most of his time outside of school playing games on the internet, and not developing good interpersonal skills.

On top of that, he has problems/hindrances caused by Chinese culture. He is very shy, and has no skills dealing with strangers in interviews, etc. Chinese culture teaches them not to look strangers, and especially women, in the eye, which is a negative in interviewing. When he went for his first interview, I bought him a new suit. But if I hadn't checked him on the way out, he would have gone to the interview wearing a beautiful business suit... with NO SOCKS!

And, on top of that, he learned English in China as a second language. He is quite fluent for everyday around-the-house use, but I suspect not the best candidate at an interview.

In spite of all these negatives, since the medical profession is always hiring, we encouraged him to take a 3-week crash course in Certified Nurses Assistant training, and he received certification in September.

He had a few interviews (where we discovered and helped correct his interview weaknesses), and had a job by end of October. It isn't the most desirable job -- he works hard feeding and changing adult diapers in a shift from 3pm - 11pm. But he is being productive, learning necessary job skills (and ethics), and earning a paycheck. He recently was very excited to tell me that he had paid for his driver's license renewal fee of $20 using his own money!

I have a lot of sympathy for adults out of work, as I have been there a number of times in the past. Adults have limits on the work they can do... for example, mortgage and high utility bills, that require a certain level of salary to survive. And frequently unemployed adults have degrees and many years of skilled work, making them over-qualified and unlikely to be hired for low paying jobs.

But teens living at home do not have such restrictions. And I actually do know a number of teens in my church who are gainfully employed. So I find it a bit difficult to believe it is as impossible for a teen to find work as is sometimes expressed, unless it really is a result of behavior issues (e.g. laziness, insolence, lack of dedication, work ethic etc).
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
> There’s an irritating theme that runs through family conversations about our unemployed teens, and the words I hear most often are “lazy” and “entitled.”
... Teens are spoiled, lazy, and unwilling to work hard. Do you believe this?

Although you makes some good points, your article frequently contradicts itself. After castigating "old people" for criticizing teens, you then confirm what the "old people" are saying:

> Teenagers have ... an undeveloped work ethic,
You are admitting that they don't have good work ethic. But work ethic is something one has to learn in the home growing up. We can blame parents to some extent, but even good parents sometimes have different children with differing work ethic. Some are lazy and some work hard. If this generation by and large has poor work ethic, at least some of the blame falls on themselves.

> You don’t have to deal with a lazy American kid who pauses in the middle of the job to set up a different playlist on his iPod. No haphazard weeding or indifferent weed-wacking. No missing a mowing day because they’re sick or have other plans.
> It barely requires brain cells at all, which means it’s a perfect entry-level job
> They’re not worth very much as workers. They’re lazy, scatterbrained, unable to remember instructions

So, after slamming "old people" for their negative opinions of teens, you just confirmed those opinions as valid.

Seriously, if I was a teen, my response would be "with friends like Bonnie Ramthun, who needs any enemies???"

I have a pretty low opinion of anyone under 30 years old... but obviously not as low as you. I know a lot of teens who are hard working, intelligent and polite. But the majority of them are living down to the expectations of people writing articles like this.

40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment

As far as the minimum wage - if wages get high enough, employers can automate, hire more experienced workers or simply go out of business. Minimum wage certainly doesn't help the marginal worker find a job. I remember my first job was when I was 13, and it was certainly below minimum wage. Thankfully no one arrested the nice lady who hired me! I think some have suggested having a "moratorium" on minimum wage for employees under 21 or having a lower minimum wage for teenagers. This might be easier for leftists to stomach than elimination of the minimum wage.

We have become a slave society. When people offer to open the cage door for us, we shiver because we cannot imagine being out of the cage. Even if someone opened the door, how many would escape and how many would clamor to have it shut again?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was watching something the other day about a girl who was banned from selling mistletoe. I think she was 12. Anyway, she was selling mistletoe she had gathered herself at a farmer's market in, I believe, Oregon, and the guy who ran the place told her she was not allowed to do that, she could panhandle though.

My neighbor has 4 kids. When the oldest was 10, she mowed our lawn. We paid her a lot less than the lawn services would charge and she didn't do as good a job, but we were all still happy. (The lawn service, BTW, is probably staffed by illegals. But, don't ask, don't tell, right?) When she got older, she went on to more lucrative work (babysitting) and now the next kid in line, her younger brother, mows our lawns. He's short for his age and barely tops the lawn mower, but he's happy to do the work and proud to do a good job.

We not only pay these kids, we invite them into the house after they are done and give them a cold root beer or milk and some home-made cookies and chat with them. The parents are grateful because we are mentoring their kids and we get a kick out of it because it's nice to see young people get a strong work ethic and have good manners.

I suspect this kind of thing goes on all over the country, but it's getting more rare thanks to the "lemonade stand Nazis" and others.

BTW, my parents were LEGAL immigrants to the US, and I totally get what people are saying about illegals. There's a basic supply/demand curve - when the supply of labor goes up, the price employers will pay goes down. Plus you don't have to pay illegals the same benefits, etc., right? Of course, America was built by immigrants, some voluntary and some not (African slaves) but the thing is - when unemployment is 2% or when you have vast unexplored territory then immigration makes sense. When you have a real unemployment rate approaching Great Depression levels, it doesn't. And ILLEGAL immigration never makes sense.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd like to add two words to your third point - Davis Bacon. If you think employers are reluctant to pay an unskilled kid $8/hour to do menial labor, how do you think employers feel about paying green helpers $75/hour to learn on the job? These may not be exactly the kind of jobs you're thinking of for teens entering the work force, but these are jobs that 17-18 year old high school graduates ought to be able to fill. The federal government, and some municipal governments with similar ordinances, are telling employers that they have to pay so much they're better off giving the job to someone with experience and skills.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
When I was 18, there was an unemployment problem. I looked at the military and it offered a lot of things I found I needed or could use.

I enlisted.

Try finding a teen now who would do that because in 1979, in my high-school graduating class I was the only person who enlisted. The stuffy, northeastern arrogant attitude was that the military was for people who were too stupid to make it on their own. That attitude is still prevalent there to this day. In fact, people who have ended up being on welfare all their lives deride the military life. It's quite hysterical, actually, to hear them spew their socialist loyalty.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here's another reason. There are so few jobs, and those jobs are all part time to avoid Obamacare regs and penalties/taxes that even college grads are working 2 or 3 of them to earn enough money to barely live. Doesn't leave many for teenagers. Get a degree in communications and you find yourself qualified to be a part time bartender or waitress.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The attitude towards teens today is one of disdain for the luxuries they enjoy and their lack of a good work ethic."... I wish I could smash every cell phone I see, I wish I could slap every teen and adult who says, "Uh-huh..." and pretends to listen while instead stares into a cell phone, I wish I could pluck every head phone and bud out of ignorant ears, and I laugh out loud when phone-oblivious pedestrians suddenly look up to find themselves in the middle of an intersection. Few if any of these people are checking up on their profitable Websites, few if any of these people are proofreading term papers via iPhone, few if any of these people are doing anything constructive, rather they're looking at a cryptic text message or scrolling through porn while being flooded with advertisements and pop-ups. No, I'd never hire a teen or an adult that pulls out a cellphone in my presence. Never. I'd rather do the job myself.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I met an old man in Pennsylvania who was hired at 5 years old to sort coal. At the same age, my great-grandfather was a water boy for a logging company. While 5 is a bit too young for working, it does illustrate a different work ethic.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Illegal workers stear Employers into a win-win scenario. When you are hired with a fake ID and what once was a stop by police you were deported, brings a control no different than slave labor. They work seven days a week, 12 hours a day for whatever they can get paid. They crossed that border to work and send badly needed money home. They're attitude is hidden by the language barrier and when you live in a 2 bedroom apartment with 8 other people, going to work is a preferred alternate.

One purpose these people DON'T serve are future consumers of our country. So using illegals is both lazy and a cancer to the future of our economy. And now we are talking about giving citizens privileges to these folks, who would be crazy not to get subsidized by our government for healthcare and welfare. Then their advantage to employers would shrink. Our employers, who use illegals are choking the golden goose who lay the golden eggs(our economy) because of laziness in no forethought of their future.

The illegal worker came into construction business nation wide fairly recently. Soon after the housing bubble hit. For the first time in my history in construction, it has not returned our economy back as it has always done in the past. Where my bubble hit, the people building the houses were the largest employer by far. We lost 80% of our building business. What has returned is a lean illegal workforce driving down costs, created by regulation and employers who don't recognize that the people they hire are potential customers in their future.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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