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Today's teens aren't as likely to get summer jobs as they used to be. But data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that they're four times as likely to take summer classes than in the 1980s, and there are more teens taking unpaid internships. So why don't they want the money?

The bottom line: The steep drop in money earned from jobs and other sources — mainly allowances — for teens occurred in the late 2000s, when the smartphone was born. Why? Because they don't need as much money for socializing if they can do it at home.

Expand chart
Data: The Decline in Adult Activities Among U.S. Adolescents, 1976–2016, Twenge et al.; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

Studies suggest that teens typically spend their money on social activities, such as going out with friends, Laurence Steinberg, a professor of psychology and author of Age of Opportunity, tells Axios. Now, they're able to socialize on their phones, at home. "If they're going out less, then they probably have less of a need for money ... If they don't need the money, then they're not gonna work," Steinberg says.

There are three reasons that could explain why teens don't need the money, Steinberg says.

  1. Social media is free. They can talk to friends without leaving home.
  2. There's a rise in helicopter parenting. Today's parents may be stricter in imposing curfews to keep teens from going out and, consequently, spending money.
  3. Teens are more concerned about their resumes. They're swapping seasonal jobs at frozen yogurt shops and as lifeguards for unpaid internships in career areas of interest to them or summer classes at local universities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 10% of teens took summer classes in 1985, compared to 42% in 2016.

Be smart: People are quick to attribute the falling rates of teen employment to laziness. But the truth is, teens are occupying themselves with other productive activities, Steinberg says. "Teenagers can't win. We get mad at them for going out, then we get mad at them for staying home with their parents."

Go deeper: Teens are becoming adults later than they used to.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
35 mins ago - Technology

Intel CEO wants to compete against Apple

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger hasn't given up on the idea of the Mac once again using Intel chips, but he acknowledges it will probably be years before he gets that chance.

  • In the meantime, he is focused on powering Windows machines that give Apple CEO Tim Cook a run for his money.

Why it matters: In getting pushed out of the Mac, Intel not only lost a customer, but picked up a new rival.

39 mins ago - Health

Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in an "Axios on HBO" interview, said he's reluctant to withhold federal funding from states that won't enforce school mask mandates because he doesn't want to hurt students.

Why it matters: Cardona's comments suggest there are limits to how far the Biden administration will go in pressuring states to adopt universal masking — or vaccine mandates.

Mike Allen, author of AM
50 mins ago - Axios on HBO

GOP senator smacks Trump

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told “Axios on HBO” he’s not sure former President Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination if he ran in 2024 — a rare voice of criticism from within the party.

  • When I raised the conventional wisdom that Trump would be expected to win the nomination, Cassidy jumped in.“
  • I don't know that,” the senator said during our interview in Chalmette, La.