Beyond boosting a teen’s self-esteem, jobs for young people give them skills that prepare them for the workplace and full-time employment. A study released in July by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University found that having summer jobs made it less likely that low-income teens in Boston would engage in violence.

But teen employment in Massachusetts has declined dramatically over the past decade or so. In 2000, about half of all Massachusetts teens had jobs; by 2012, that plunged to about one-quarter.

The recent recession and sluggish recovery are largely responsible for the difficulties teens have in finding jobs. With unemployment at 7 percent in Massachusetts, recent college graduates and other adults are taking retail and fast-food jobs, which historically went to teens, said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies.

“Teens are working at the lowest rate than they have in our history,” said Sum. “Employers have choices. Kids go to the back of the queue.”