July 14, 2017
Summer job: mowing yards at age 12 seemed like nothing more than a distraction from sleeping late, watching for the milk and mailmen, and awaiting meals. I wasn’t forced to seek employment, but the money was a perk that I enjoyed spending at the Rialto, TG&Y Variety, and bowling alley pinball machine.
Working was enjoyable. Part-time interaction with customers at the co-op, Woody’s Texaco, and Gibson’s Discount exposed me to the different personalities I would encounter when I entered the full-time work world. I continued to work weekends after my stint in the Army and during my teaching career, but, according to research in an article in Time by Karl Vick, part-time jobs have been hard to fill this summer. Since the turn of the new century, only every third youth is working or looking for work this summer.
Are the jobs out there? Harvest was once a big part-time employer in the area, but the huge scale of farming operations has eliminated the elevator and field jobs that were once a staple of youth. Harvest that once lasted weeks is accomplished in days.
Working for Mom and Dad was once considered partial payment in return for child rearing, getting an allowance often came with strings attached, and some family businesses put kids on the payroll as a tax advantage, but today kids are too busy with workshops, camps and social media.
It’s nice when kids find part-time jobs, but don’t send them off with the circus!