CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - According to a recent study, the number of teens working during the summer has tumbled since 2000.
Pew Research Center says only about 35 percent of teens had a job in summer 2018. The study says when teens do get summer jobs, they’re more likely to be busing tables or tending a grill than staffing a mall boutique or souvenir stand.
The study cites several reasons for this. Among them include the factors that fewer low-skill jobs are available, more schools end in late June or restart before Labor Day and more students are enrolled in some type of school over the summer.
But one hurdle they didn’t mention, was transportation.
For teens who aren’t old enough to get a license, they can’t drive themselves to work.
Some teens may be eligible for a license, but affording a car or insurance is out of reach if they can’t work.
They may have working parents who can’t give them a ride, and they can’t use a rideshare service if they’re under 18.
They’re at a dead end, wondering how can they make money, if they can’t get transportation?
It’s a question 16-year-old Iyanna was asking herself until earlier this month.
“I depended on one person to get me to work and sometimes they wouldn’t be able to take me to work or they would come really late, so that would be a problem. Because it would affect my job and made me less dependable for coming in,” Iyanna said.
She's been working at Carowinds since April.
In June, a program started up that let her get a free ride to work so she started utilizing it.
The is a joint effort between CATS, Carowinds and the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program.
On June 10, CATS began offering a free shuttle service to help teens get to their jobs at Carowinds.
It’s a seasonal program that’s been underway for more than a decade, and it’s growing every year, both in how many teens it serves, and how long it runs.
CATS officials say this seasonal service will operate daily, every 40 minutes between 8:40 a.m. and 10:50 p.m., through October 27.
“A lot of the students, they take their bus from the neighborhood to the transit center. Then they go from there to the LYNX station all the way down to the end of 485 and catch a 42X bus to over to Carowinds. And that bus runs every 20 minutes, just cycling back and forth between the LYNX station and Carowinds,” Sandy Crawford, Director of Human Resources at Carowinds, said.
“Right now, we provide it throughout the summer and we go through October up to Scarowinds. But now we have an opportunity with Carowinds to increase that ridership through Winterfest. So we wanna make sure that youth have access to employment and that we’re reducing the barriers to employment. And the number one which is transportation,” Dawn Hill with the Youth Employment Program said. “The city is really serious as well as our stakeholders and our community partners about eliminating that downward mobility and increasing that upward mobility. And this is one of the major steps in helping us do that.”
“I think this is really something special. These partnerships are an excellent opportunity for everyone who’s involved,” Krystel Green with CATS said. “Just being able to help youth achieve their goals. Get a job. Learn some life skills. And to become productive citizens in the community. It’s a special opportunity.”
The program’s cost is split three ways, evenly, between the three groups. They say hundreds of students are part of the program right now.
Iyanna says without it, she wouldn’t be working.
“I probably would’ve had to quit my job if I didn’t have a ride to work. Because I already had to call out once because I didn’t have a ride and I didn’t know how the bus system worked just yet,” Iyanna said.
For more information on the Carowinds schedule, visit ridetransit.org.