Summer jobs called beneficial for teens -- if they'll take them
One simple way to help combat youth crime is to employ young people in other ways, the coauthor of a Chicago youth study told the Chicago City Wire recently.
“Giving youth a summer job with a mentoring component can have a lasting reduction in arrests in violent crime,” Jonathan Davis said.
Davis co-wrote “Rethinking the Benefits of Youth Employment Programs: The Heterogeneous Effects of Summer Jobs,” which examines field experiments in Chicago and measures the impact of youth employment in communities.
The paper’s release coincides with a new minimum wage law that took effect on July 1 in Cook County and Chicago. While some argue that raising the minimum wage will make it even harder for teens to find work, since employers will simply choose not to hire and therefore shrink the pool of available jobs, other theories on teen employment abound.
A Bloomberg News article in early June looked at lower rates of teen employment across America and found that many teenagers are not looking for work.
Acknowledging that “lots of theories have been offered” regarding teen unemployment, the Bloomberg piece suggests that younger workers could be crowded out of the work force or it's simply not worth their time to go work at a low-wage job.
“College-bound teens aren’t looking for work because the money doesn't go as far as it used to,” the article said, citing a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis that concludes “teen earnings are low, and pay little toward the costs of college.”
Asked about job prospects for teens in the Chicago area, Davis conceded there are hurdles to overcome.
“The reality on the ground is that it is difficult to find work,” Davis said, but added that Chicago “itself has a lot of summer programming available.”
Davis suggested that job programs that match teens with mentors and teach job etiquette to make a lasting impression on young participants could improve their long-term options.
The paper’s other author, Sara Heller, declined to comment when reached by email.
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