As retail store closings rise this year to levels last seen during the Great Recession, teenagers are missing a historically significant source of employment.
“The trend is setting off alarm bells for many who believe that teens are missing out on opportunities to learn the soft skills needed for their adult careers,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “The rate of teen participation in the labor force during the month of July peaked in 1978 at 72%, falling to 43% last year.”
The long-term decline in teen participation in the work force is attributed to increased enrollment in summer school and a greater emphasis on extracurricular activities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Others blame minimum wage laws for raising the price of unskilled labor. A Congressional Budget Office report in February 2014 found that minimum wage hikes disproportionately hurt teen workers more than people age 25 and older.