“Some of my students only have about six weeks off in the summer,” said Shannon Reed, a lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh and a former high school English teacher. “I could never advocate that they get jobs during that short break. They should rest.”
But the stress could be getting to them. “I see a very high rate of self-reported mental illnesses in my students’ writing,” Reed said.
Maggie Williams, 17, a high school junior in Kensington, Maryland, said she’s under constant pressure to maximize her time.
“I cried today because I was scared for my future,” said Williams, who took four Advanced Placement classes her junior year and will take four more next fall. She’s also involved in several student clubs.
Teens who do want to work are faced with increased competition from a flood of available workers. In Bellingham, Washington, Kaylie Hudson, 17, spent five months looking for a summer job before she found a job at at Target store.
“Employers are offering more jobs to college students because they have more experience and are available full-time,” she said. “Even fast food companies are hiring people upwards of 50.”
In 2016, the median age of retail employees was 37.9 years old, according to government figures. In the leisure and hospitality industries, which have historically been dominated by teenagers, the median age is now 31.3. And in restaurants and other food service trades, where most teens look for work, the median age is 28.6 years old.