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Why Aren’t American Teenagers Working Anymore?

The decline of the summer job.

Empty Concession Counter at Movie Theater

Source: Fuse/Corbis RF Stills

This summer American teenagers should find it a little easier to get a job—if they want one.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in May, the lowest in 16 years, so teens started looking for summer jobs in the best labor market since the tech boom of the early 2000s. The May unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds was 14.3 percent, but teens usually find it harder to find jobs than their more experienced elders. Back in 2009, the teenage jobless rate hit 27 percent.