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Maybe They'll Have Summer-Job Income After All

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Companies that market to teens are likely anticipating a rough summer as the economy puts a damper on kids' likelihood of landing jobs (and incomes) during the school-vacation season. They'll draw some hope, then, from a report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which suggests the teen-summer-job market won't be unusually bad after all.

Challenger forecasts that between 1.5 million and 1.6 million 16-19-year-olds will end up with summer jobs this year. While down from the 2.02 million who had jobs in 1999, this summer's figure is likely to be just slightly lower than those of the past several years, says the report.

Availability of jobs is not, as you might suppose, the chief constraint. "The biggest problem in recent years has not been the shrinking number of summer jobs for teens, but the shrinking number of teens who want traditional summer jobs," says Challenger. Increasing numbers of teens have better things to do during the summer, including summer school, college-prep programs and volunteer work. The percentage of teens holding or looking for summer jobs has dwindled for the past three decades. In 1978, it was 72 percent. Last July, it was 50 percent.