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Tell your teen a part-time job means better earnings later in life

Wednesday - 8/13/2014, 11:41am  ET

Working a part-time job while in high school translates into better wages later in life, according to the Employment Policies Institute — perhaps a timely study, considering the unemployment rate among teens is near a record high.

The study, from University of Virginia economist Christopher Ruhm and Middle Tennessee State University economist Charles Baum, says part-time work as a high school senior translates into future career benefits that include higher hourly wages, increased annual earnings and less time spent out of work, even after three decades.

Its study says a high school senior who was working 20 hours a week at the turn of the millennium was earning 20 percent more six to nine years after graduation, compared to students who didn’t work.

Millennial high school seniors who worked part-time were employed an average of 42 weeks a year after graduation, compared to 37 weeks for those who didn’t work.

“Entry-level jobs play an essential role in teens’ career development that continues to pay benefits for decades,” said Employment Policies Institute research director Michael Saltsman.

The study found even for workers who were high school students in the late-'70s and early-'80s, 20 hours per week of senior-year work experience is associated today with annual earnings that are 7 percent higher than those who didn't work part-time.

The unemployment rate among teens is currently 20.2 percent, according to the Labor Department.

© 2014 American City Business Journals, Inc.