1 in 4 high school students work, U.S. Census finds, including many in Oklahoma to support families

The U.S. Census released a report Thursday that found about 1 in 4 high school students have jobs. That means about 3.1 million students age 16 and older are working nationwide.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Modified: January 24, 2013 at 10:25 pm •  Published: January 25, 2013
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After school and after soccer practice, Gabriella Rowles gets to work.

The senior at Northwest Classen High School helps clean and do other work at a family friend's salon. She needs money for bills. Rowles lives with a friend, and she pays rent to her friend's parents. Then it's homework time.

“I don't give up, though,” said Rowles, 17. “I just figure that's how it's going to be in life.”

New data released Thursday by the U.S. Census shows that more than 1 in 4 high school students age 16 and older work. That's more than 3 million workers nationwide.

Only 1 percent of students work full-time, according to the data.

Also, white students are more likely to have part-time jobs, but minorities are more likely to work longer hours, according to a study released Thursday by researchers at the University of Michigan and Penn State University.

Students who work more than 15 hours a week are more associated with problems like low grades, smoking, drinking and drug use, according to the study. However, researchers say that work doesn't necessarily cause those problems, only that an association exists.

Some students work for extra money, but many work to pay bills, said Ashley Westerman, a counselor at Northwest Classen. Some are expected to help support their families.

For some students, working a minimum-wage job is a reminder of how important education is, Westerman said. But for others, paychecks are tempting.

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