More teens are trading summer jobs to build their college résumé --  here's why it might not pay off in the long run

Teen summer jobsChris Hyde/Getty ImagesSummer jobs are worth more than the paycheck

Patrolling beaches or scooping ice cream in exchange for a paycheck has long been a summer tradition for teens in America.

But now, teens are less likely to have a summer job than they were even 15 years ago. 

In 2000, just over half of teens between the ages of 16 and 19 had a paid summer job. The amount of employed teens dropped to its lowest — 30.4% — in 2011, and has ticked up slightly since then. Last summer, 34.5% of teens were able to find work during the summer, according to the Drexel report [PDF]. 

Teenage summer employment peaked in 1978 at 71.8%, according to data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics, as Business Insider previously reported

I recently appeared on CBS This Morning to talk about this pattern. 

As you can see from the above chart, the vast majority of teens work in the leisure and hospitality industry, which includes restaurants and hotels. The second largest industry, retail, has had its own issues lately. Also:

It’s not that teens today are lazy. Some teenagers who want to work are not able to find jobs, as companies hire older workers who are available year-round.

For others, not working is a choice. They opt to focus instead on internships and volunteer experience, to boost their chance of getting into their college of choice. 

But there’s a lot to be said for the value of a summer job, especially when it comes to long-term financial success. 

As I told CBS anchors Anthony Mason and Dana Jacobson, I work with the smartest people in New York City, and some of them went to the very best schools, so I can appreciate getting into a good college. But just earning a high salary isn’t enough to be financially independent. You really need to understand —  and it sounds cheesy —  the value of a dollar. And how to manage your money  — how to save your money.

Even if you’re making minimum wage and bringing home $US50 a day, having a summer job will teach you those sorts of lessons.

Watch the full conversation below: 

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