My Kids Want to Work But...

22 May 2016 15:20

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I live in the Northeast and have been seeing odd employment trends locally and was really wondering if this is a trend nationally.

I have two teenage children who have been searching for a part-time job for more than a year but have yet to land a job. I find this amazing as a stretch of my town is commonly referred to as “Miracle Mile” due to its high density of retail businesses that generates significant income for the town. With such a concentration of businesses you would think getting a part-time minimum wage job would be snap.

As long as I could remember, part-time minimum wage jobs at grocery and retail stores have long been the bastion of employment for teenagers or retirees. Jobs were plentiful and turnover was high. So why is it taking so long for my kids to find part-time jobs? I get that a % of jobs no longer exist thanks in part to automation, online purchases, and companies just becoming more efficient but I find it hard to believe that not one offer has come their way.

After talking to my two teens they enlightened me to an interesting point, they said every time they go to an interview they are competing with other candidates in their late 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s. Over the last month every time I stepped into a retail business I started to notice that a large percentage of the employees are full blown adults. I have only seen a handful of teenagers or retirees in the ranks of minimum wage retail!

What the heck is going on when fully able adults have to resort to part-time minimum wage jobs to earn a living? Politicians and the Fed keep saying the economy is heating up and unemployment is relatively low. I’m just not seeing this. Maybe the problem I am seeing is local but if this is widespread then are we fooling ourselves things are getting better?

What I find really offensive is the political and media attack on retail and the push for an increase in minimum wage and making retailers out to be the spawn of Satan. I might be missing something but as I stated earlier retail has long been the bastion of part-time minimum wage teens and retirees. Back when I was a teen in the 80s the only adults that worked in retail were managers or specialty skills like butchers or bakers.

The change in this landscape of employment is truly amazing! I honestly believe politicians are playing a magicians game of misdirection. They are redirecting our attention at retail (where jobs were plentiful) as being evil for paying rock bottom minimum wages so we do not see their failure at creating an environment for good paying jobs (1 ½ times minimum wage or more) to compensate for the massive loss of manufacturing jobs during the 80s & 90s.

I do not know what this means in the big scheme of things or in relation to my portfolio but my gut is telling there is a snowball starting to roll down the hill and will be getting bigger with each passing year.

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