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Teenagers are underpaid and overworked, which affects their mental health


During November 2023, I worked 72 hours. I was stressed with school and tired from work. I felt like I had so much work at school to do, but I had no time to finish at home because I would have crazy hours at work. My weekends were spent working. During school hours, I was doing school work. After school, I would work. Then I would go home and sleep. Sometimes I didn’t even eat dinner because of how tired I was. I felt myself decline, both physically and mentally. And when it came to every other Friday (payday), I didn’t see a number that reflected all my hard work.


“Retail work can also be physically demanding, requiring standing for long periods of time, lifting heavy boxes, and performing repetitive tasks. This can lead to physical exhaustion and strain, which can, in turn, impact mental health,” Forbes Magazine. This checks a box for me.According to the organization Zipline, many people who work in retail have high levels of anxiety: “Based on our survey, 2 out of every 5 retail associates report their mental health has declined over the past year, and nearly 1 in 4 workers reported high levels of anxiety on the job.” Zipline. This checks another box for me. And I bet that other working teens would agree.


On January 1st, 2024, my hourly pay was $15.69. If you didn’t know, that is the minimum wage in Connecticut. And the sixty-nine cents isn’t much of a difference, because it’s basically the taxes they are going to take out. So essentially, I am getting paid fifteen dollars an hour. Imagine November 2023, when the minimum was only fifteen dollars. I was actually only getting paid fourteen dollars an hour. Taxes and the minimum wage are obvious faults, but I feel so robbed. I work so hard and get paid as much as a footlong medium Subway meal.


“Teenagers don’t need the money, and if it’s stressful, then don’t work. I can work 40 hours a week, and I’m never that tired.” A relative told me this once. Work will always be stressful, and we understand that, but it is unfair to work so many hours, get paid so little, and still have to go to school. For one week, we go to school for 40 hours, plus an average of 20 hours of work. We go to school just as long as you work. When they get home, they get to sit down and watch TV, while teenagers are getting ready or are already at work.


Maybe, just maybe, if we were not underpaid for all our hard work, we would be okay with being tired once in a while. And maybe, if our schedules weren’t so busy, it would be okay to only work 10 hours a week and be okay with our paycheck. But we don’t get paid enough, and our schedules are always demanding.


We are tired of getting underpaid and overworked.

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