Teens stay busy with summer jobs

By Trina Trice

Although the number of teens working in the summer has been on a steady decline since 1994, some local teens have found a way to make a little extra money before going back to school in August.

Reports from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show a decline in the labor workforce for ages 16 through 19, however, the reports cannot determine whether the cause is more students enrolling in school during the summer or the economic recession.

Last year, more than half of all teens in the U.S. held jobs in the service or retail industries.

For example, David Howard, rising junior at Riverdale High School, works for a movie theater in Riverdale.

It's his first summer job, but he's been working there for two years.

"It's something to do during the summer, so I'm not at home doing nothing," he said. "Oh, I had to get the money, too. I need the money ? You get free movies, popcorn, and drinks. And what I do compared to other jobs is kind of light."

Allison Sidwell and Rocky Lee are lifeguards for The Beach at the Clayton County International Park.

"I thought this would be a fun experience, better than sitting at a desk," Sidwell said. "You meet a lot of interesting people, but sometimes you have to deal with rude guests and get sunburn."

Being a lifeguard isn't like being on the television show "Baywatch," Sidwell added, although she did dress as a "Baywatch babe" for Halloween last year.

"I've had people come up to me before and ask me to do the Baywatch run," she said with a laugh.

Lee said he gets a thrill out of being useful.

"It's been great," he said. "When you see someone in the water who needs your help, it's fun, but at the same time (it's a serious challenge)."

Lee juggles weight training for the upcoming football season with his lifeguard duties.

While Lee spends the money he earns hanging out with friends and or on other summertime activities, Sidwell says she's saving up for a car.

Howard, though, watches his money closely.

"I put at least 25 percent in my savings account, 25 percent in my checking, and 50 percent I spend freely."

Once school starts again, Howard plans to continue working if he can, although his "hours get cut and my money starts getting short and I'm limited in what I can do."

Teens, on average, work approximately 29 hours a week in the summer, with more than half of them earning more than $6.75 an hour.

"Some people say you have your whole life to work, but I like it," Sidwell said.