Teens need jobs just like all other age groups in society. No, they might not need them to pay their rent but they do need them for other reasons.
The first reason is that they need them to provide money that they can't get from their parents. Jobs for teens today are especially important because many families are struggling and parents don't have the money to give to their kids for clothes, games, dates and other things that teens need money for. So, if a teenager wants to be able to go out with his or her friends, in many cases they need their own source of money which a job provides.
Besides providing a teenager with money, a job gives them experience in the work force that they will need later on in life. It is an adjustment getting your first job and suddenly having responsibilities and a boss. It is difficult for many to learn to deal with managers and what they expect of you. Getting a job at an early age is something that benefits youngsters later on when they go into the work force for real. The more they learn at a young age on how to deal with co-workers and bosses, the better off they will be after they graduate school and get a job for real.
Jobs for a 17 year old can be most anything as at that age, the law allows you do many things. That means seventeen year olds can compete for jobs like cashiers, greeters, customer service reps, sales, and many other type jobs. They will most likely only qualify for entry level positions but it is great to get their feet wet in those types of jobs when they are young so they can learn the things they need to early on.
If the economy doesn't pick up soon, we will have several years in a row where teens have gone without getting jobs. Thousands of teenagers will never get the early training and experience that they need to help them later in life. It is bad for employers as well as at some point they will be hiring 20 to 25 year olds that have never had a job and take much longer to train. This is a situation that has unknown consequences down the line and so it is to everyones advantage that jobs come back for all age groups as soon as possible.