Teenage Summer Jobs: The Evolving Marketplace

July 10, 2017

Remember your first summer job?

It’s a right of passage that lasted just 10-12 weeks, but provided invaluable lessons and memories for a lifetime.

I had a paper route for a couple of years, when at the age of 15,
I became a busboy at the local country club.

I still remember the transistor radio positioned near the dishwasher.

Only one station played in Chef Paul’s kitchen that summer: WEBN, Cincinnati’s legendary rock station.

Over the recent 4th of July weekend, I noticed a Time Magazine article describing the current state of teenage summer employment.

As Bob Dylan says, “The Times They Are a Changin'”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the high water mark for summer jobs was 1978, when 72% of American teenagers were employed.

Fast forward to last year and just 35% of teenagers were in the job market.

Since 2000, teenagers working summer jobs have dropped by 15%, falling from half the population to one-third.

Despite the fear each generation has about kids today being lazy, the reasons point in a variety of other directions.

From the consistent rise in minimum wage in recent years that allows more experienced workers to fill entry level jobs to the myriad of sports and activities that occupy their time, teenagers are stretched thin.

Even summer school, which traditionally helped kids catch up is now being used by high achievers to get further ahead and polish their college resumes. Last summer, 40% of 16-19 year olds were enrolled in school.

In addition, to help put their best foot forward with colleges, 77% of high school students are willing to volunteer to gain relevant experience in a professional setting without a paycheck.

In fact, that 15% decline in the teenage workforce since 2000 has been mirrored by an increase in college enrollment over the same period.

While it’s easy to over generalize about the work ethic of today’s teenagers, it’s equally dangerous to dismiss the strength of radio.

So where do we fit into this changing teenage landscape? In a word, radio is RESILIENT.

According to Nielsen, over the last decade radio has retained its teenage audience.

As these teenagers become adults, radio continues to flex its muscle. In Nielsen’s latest Comparable Metrics Report, radio reaches more 18-34 year olds each week than TV or smartphones.

We know that a majority of radio listening is driven by employed persons in the car and at-work. In fact, our core target audience is comprised of exactly the audience advertisers want to reach … people with money to spend.

Your heavy listening P1s are employed outside the home and consume a lot of radio, which is why they make such an significant impact on your ratings.

As summer employment trends among teenagers continue to evolve, radio’s strength and resilience endures … driven by compelling content on-air and Top of Mind Awareness off-air.

Want increased listening? Let us recruit and engage the heavy listeners who matter most to your ratings and revenue. Send us an email or call 859-957-1581.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO