New Study Finds Teens’ Early Work Experiences Have Long Lasting Career Benefits

  • Publication Date: August 2014

  • Topics: Teen Unemployment

Washington, D.C. – Today the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) is releasing a new study from economists Dr. Christopher Ruhm and Dr. Charles Baum from University of Virginia and Middle Tennessee State University that quantifies the long-lasting benefits of having a part-time job as a teen. The study comes of the heels of newly released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showing that the number of unemployed young adults increased by 913,000 this summer.

Read the study here.

Baum and Ruhm find clear evidence that part-time work as a high school senior translates to future career benefits that include higher hourly wages, increased annual earnings, and less time spent out of work—not just in the short-term after graduation, but also roughly 25-30 years later for individuals now in their 40s and 50s.
The study’s key findings include:

• For a young adult in high school at the turn of the millennium, 20 hours per week of part-time work in their senior year resulted in annual earnings that were 20 percent higher 6-9 years after graduation, as compared to their fellow students who didn’t work.

• Millennial high school seniors who held a part-time job were employed an average 42 weeks per year after graduation, as compared to 37 weeks of employment per year for those who didn’t hold a job.

• The positive impact of entry-level work lingers for years: Even for workers who were high school students in the late 1970s and early 1980s, 20 hours per week of senior-year work experience is associated today with annual earnings that are seven percent higher as compared to those who didn’t work.

“Entry-level jobs play an essential role in teens’ career development that continues to pay benefits for decades,” said Michael Saltsman, EPI’s research director. “Given the study’s findings, lawmakers should think twice before pursuing a minimum wage increase that puts these invaluable opportunities further out of reach.”