Financial Building Blocks
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the summer of 1998 a total of 21.6 million youths age 16-24 were employed—this is nearly 65 percent of all people in this age group. Most worked in retail and service companies, but a large number also were employed in manufacturing and construction. About 1.5 million also worked in government jobs, mostly at the local level.
There's good news for young people today: There are plenty of jobs out there. And with openings galore, even some formerly minimum-wage jobs are paying higher wages to attract job applicants.
Jobs can be found in many places:
- Doing work around the house. Although to some farm families, working at home still might mean working the fields and feeding the farm animals at times, it usually means doing chores or even helping a parent in a home-based business.
- Working for a paycheck. Businesses today are looking for help, particularly in low-end jobs to which teenagers are well-suited.
- Working to gain experience. Internships and volunteer positions can offer something money can't buy: work experience.
Working at Home
When my friend lived above the candy store her parents owned, working at home meant clerking behind the counter in the store. Today, working at home has a whole new meaning. Technology and other factors have spawned a home-based business revolution. If you're part of that revolution, you may be able to provide a job opportunity for your child. My kids have worked for my home-based business since they were young, spending hours filing papers in my library, photocopying reports, and collating materials.
Financial Building Blocks
If your child is under age 18, she may need certain papers or documents to show that she's allowed to work. For example, in New York, a child who has not reached 18 must have a full-time Employment Certificate to work even though she has graduated from high school. Papers are also required for those under 16, even when working as a camp counselor or such. Generally, your child can get the necessary papers from her high school.
Putting your child to work for you offers benefits for both of you. There's probably no zoning problem because your child/employee is a member of your household. And there are tax benefits as well: As a self-employed person, you don't owe any FICA on wages paid to your child under age 18, and you can deduct the wages you've paid her.
But even if you don't run a business out of your home, you can still put your child to work there. You may want to compensate your child for doing regular chores (such as starting dinner for the family each night because you work outside the home) or special chores (such as painting the porch railing).
Be very clear on what work you expect your child to do just because she's part of the family, what work is tied to her allowance, and what work is over and above that (such as special jobs around the house or work in a family business). It's not always easy to draw the distinction (see a related discussion in Kids, Allowance, and Chores).