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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

How would a recession impact teens?

Oliver Williams, 17, washes dishes on July 21 in Mango Tree. Williams is hoping to buy a $14,000 motor bike with the money that he has earned at this job.  (Sidiq Moltafet/The Spokesman-Review)
By Sidiq Moltafet The Spokesman-Review

Teens throughout the nation may soon experience their first recession, many not knowing what to expect.

With inflation rising 9.1% in June, and the Federal Reserve expected to raise interest rates between 0.75% to 1%, many economists believe a recession is looming.

Adults have experience with economic turmoil, when in 2008 a collapse of the housing market spurred the Great Recession and millions lost their jobs and homes. But teens have never had a glimpse of what is to come.

As adults are dealing with high prices, teenagers are having to go through the same dilemma – paying a higher price at the pump and spending more on social outings.

With gas prices around $4.83 per gallon in Spokane County, according to AAA, many teens are ditching their cars and using public transportation, while others are deciding to carpool with friends.

“I’ve started a job as a dishwasher at Mango Tree to pay for the increased prices,” said 17-year-old Oliver Williams, a senior at Mt. Spokane High School.

Wonderland Family Fun Center, a popular hangout spot for young adults, is one of the many amusement centers seeing lower attendance, particularly among teens.

“Compared to last year, our attendance numbers are significantly lower even though we lowered prices,” said Sammy De Ocampo, a manager at Wonderland. “There has been a sharp decline in the number of teens that have been showing up.”

Another dilemma teens and families are facing is the increased price of food.

On July 12, Starbucks had its third price increase since October, raising the cost of items by as much as 30 cents. Popular fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s and Chipotle have also raised prices due to inflation.

“Me and my friends used to hang out by going to restaurants and getting coffee or a burger, but now it seems like everything is so expensive that it isn’t even worth it,” said Anthony Vang, a junior at Mead High School.

Vang, an amateur skater, has also seen the price of skateboarding supplies increase.

Paradigm Skate Supply and Pistole Boardshop, popular skate supply stores in downtown Spokane, have increased the price of their items.

“We definitely had an increase in price of goods,” said Josh Yandell, the owner of Pistole Boardshop. “We’ve been losing money trying to keep prices low. It’s like running a nonprofit at this point.”

Yandell had to increase the price on several items, including boards, accessories and clothing.

Even though prices keep rising, gas prices are beginning to drop, unemployment remains low and consumers are still spending. This has made some economists less worried about the future of the economy.

“I am not concerned about any type of significant slowdown in 2022,” said Clarence Barnes, a professor at Gonzaga University. “I have no evidence of a recession occurring in the future.”

While Barnes is not worried about a recession, he is worried about home-buying for young people, “with the cost of housing as high as it is, and it’s unlikely we’re going to see much of any reduction in the price for our teens going forward over the next five years or so.”

The median home price in Spokane rose $90,000 since last year, according to the Spokane Association of Realtors.

Although teens have been experiencing these economic changes for the first time, economists are optimistic about the future for teens.

“I believe teens will be just fine,” Barnes said. “The current situation is just a speed bump to their road for success.”