It may sound obvious, but a new study shows that it's also true: Teen employment helps keep kids out of trouble. Researchers from Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies found that in Boston, low-income teenagers with summer jobs are less prone to violence and drug and alcohol use.
The center's director hailed the study's results, saying, "Disadvantaged kids benefit the most from job-creation programs." Boston Mayor Thomas Menino jumped on board, telling The Boston Globe on Monday that summer employment gives "the kids hope, gives them an opportunity they never had."
The problem, though, is that the share of young people working has dropped rapidly over the past decade. National Journal's Niraj Chokshi illustrated this problem last week:
Youth employment was at 55 percent in the second quarter of this year, down from 62 percent a decade ago.
And youth employment isn't just about violence prevention. As Chokshi writes, youth unemployment can drastically reduce wages for decades, and places people in jobs they are more likely to dislike later in life.
So while the Northeastern study shows that there are strong, noneconomic benefits to youth employment, the U.S. economy is still not the best place for teens to find a job.