After-school Jobs Get a Bad Review

A new study shows that your teen may be risking her future with an afterschool job.

Sure, a teenager who works part-time may be learning something about responsibility, punctuality, and money management. But studies show that when teens work for 20 hours or more a week (as nearly half of U.S. 12th graders do during the school year), the job isn't just good practice for the future. Overworked teens sacrifice sleep and exercise, spend less time with their families, and cut back on homework.

That's not even the worst of it: A 1998 report by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine shows that students who worked 15 hours a week had lower grades, higher dropout rates, and were less likely to go to college.

Hardworking Teens
Most of these hardworking teens get jobs in the retail industry, with more than half employed in restaurants and grocery stores. A quarter of young workers are employed in the health-care industry, while 8% work in agriculture.

Too Many Hours
Soon, teens may not be the ones deciding how many hours a week they want to sell sweater sets or flip flapjacks: A panel of labor experts has recommended that Congress give the U.S. Department of Labor the authority to limit the number of hours worked during the school year by youngsters under age 18.

If you'd like tips on employment guidelines and teen employment, send away for the "Parents Primer: When Your Teen Works." Mail $1 and your written request to the National Consumers League, 1701 K Street, NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20006.

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