Teens Work to Balance School & Jobs

August 31, 1990

Report Outline
Special Focus


At a time when many employers are scrambling to recruit and retain teenage workers, some educators and public officials are worried that American teenagers are spending too much time flipping hamburgers and waiting on tables and not enough time with their schoolbooks. They want child labor laws to be enforced more strenuously to prevent students from being overworked. But other experts, citing the benefits of after-school jobs, say there is no clear relationship between the number of hours that teens work and their study habits.

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It's past dinner time on a school night, and 17-year-old Mike isn't home yet. But his parents aren't worried. They know he is working at the nearby shopping mall, as are many of his high school classmates. And that suits Mike's mom and dad just fine. Like many people, they believe work experience is a worthwhile activity for young people, teaching them discipline, responsibility and the value of money, and giving them a head start in finding a niche in the adult employment market.

But increasingly, educators and public officials are cautioning that America's teenagers are working too much and studying too little—although they disagree on whether there is a cause-effect relationship between after-school jobs and poor study habits. Many experts also voice concerns about the type of work performed by teenagers nowadays, arguing that most after-school jobs require few skills that will prove useful after high school or, especially, college.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Youths and Work
Oct. 14, 2016  Apprenticeships
Mar. 14, 2014  Youth Unemployment
Jan. 27, 2012  Youth Volunteerism
Oct. 23, 1992  Youth Apprenticeships
Aug. 31, 1990  Teens Work to Balance School & Jobs
Jul. 12, 1961  Jobs for Young People
May 10, 1950  Employment of Young People
Dec. 23, 1940  Revival of Apprenticeship
Jan. 17, 1940  Work Programs for Young People
Labor Standards and Practices
Students and Social Life
Vocational and Adult Education