NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Summer Jobs Provide Little Lasting Benefit For Teens

July 19, 2001

Because of the economy's weakness, fewer teens are landing summer jobs this year than did in the blockbuster year of 1999. But a recent study suggests the effect -- aside from extra money for college -- on them will probably be only slight.

A draft study by Public-Private Ventures examines the experiences of youth who applied to participate in the Summer Career Exploration Program in Philadelphia in 1999. Created by the William Penn Foundation, it was designed as an alternative to government programs and assists high school students in finding summer jobs in the private sector.

The study compared the experiences of 1,157 teens who were supplied summer job placement assistance with those of 551 students in a control group who were not assisted.

  • The average hourly wage rate for those in the assistance program was $5.30 -- but $5.69 for those in the control group.
  • The average student who found employment earned about $900 over the summer -- with those in the program earning about $250 more than those in the control group.
  • Students chosen to participate in the program did not have a higher likelihood of working during the following school year than those in the control group.
  • Moreover, being placed in a summer job did not appear to improve significantly the students' academic outcomes or educational aspirations.

Based on these results, some economists say there is little reason to suspect that holding an ordinary summer job would meaningfully influence a student's academic achievement.

Source: Alan B. Krueger (Princeton University), "Economic Scene: There are Fewer Summer Jobs for Teenagers, But that Might Not Hurt Long Term," New York Times, July 19, 2001.


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