Column, Money Matters

Teenage “wage-land”

By Kevin Theissen

Summer jobs are a perennial aspect of the American workforce. It’s a time when teenagers are filling out applications and, in many cases, earning wages of their own for the first time. But some of what we’ve become accustomed to may be changing.

In May, leading into the summer months, over 30% of working-age teenagers (16-19) were part of the workforce. The hospitality industry, including restaurants and hotels, is still struggling in the wake of Covid-19. It has faced particular challenges in staffing, and has turned to hiring younger employees in particular.

How might this change, as many of these employees have returned to high school and college this fall? While many may shift hours, others might need to shift focus to classes full time. This might turn the current teenage “wage-land” into a teenage wasteland, and leave restaurants and hotels struggling to cover shifts.

Are the teens in your household and extended family working? You may want to remind them that their money is about more than that first car or even paying for college. The day you start working can also be the day you start your financial strategy, from starting your career to retirement. One idea is to consider funding a Roth IRA. Assuming your teen is in a low- or no-tax bracket, their earned income could be contributed to their Roth IRA for their long-term future. It grows tax deferred and distributions will be tax-free.

Kevin Theissen is the owner of HWC Financial in Ludlow.

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