Politics, Moderate



Learning Summer Job Dignity for $1 an Hour

Tom Purcell on

But fewer teens are willing to take such jobs.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 1978 about 7 in 10 teenagers like me took part-time jobs, but in recent years prior to the pandemic it was down to 4 in 10.

Why? The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School said it’s because more teens are taking internships or volunteer work to strengthen their college applications. In a sense, that means colleges are punishing kids who choose to work. 

That’s regrettable because summer jobs offer a treasure trove of real-world learning opportunities: how to plan and execute projects, collaborate with different personalities and experience the satisfaction of exchanging your skills and labor for cold hard cash. 

When I got my first paycheck in 1977, I quickly learned that saving up for my CB radio would be even harder than I expected.  

I was introduced to my three silent partners — federal, state and local taxing authorities — who didn’t have to get their sneakers covered with dew to earn a chunk of my $1 hourly wage. 


By the end of the summer, however, I’d finally saved enough to buy my CB radio. It was one of the most rewarding purchases I ever made — because I built up my dignity one lousy golf-ball plunk at a time. 

In the long run, dignity is the biggest reward of a summer job. I highly recommend taking one, Young Buddies. 


Tom Purcell is an author and humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him at Tom@TomPurcell.com. Copyright 2021 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Copyright 2021 Tom Purcell, All Rights Reserved. Credit: Cagle.com



Gary Markstein Steve Benson Brian Duffy Milt Priggee David M. Hitch Bob Englehart