When I was growing up, in a suburb of Sunnyvale, the neighborhood was typical. Single family dwellings, clean yards, lots of grass, and busy professionals who worked at Lockheed or Westinghouse.
There were a couple of enterprising youths who leveraged this situation by mowing lawns. $5 a week, they had their own power mower and edger, and would come and keep your lawns in good shape. Just about everybody on the block took advantage of this, and had these youths maintaining their yards.
There were other entrepreneurial things you could do to make some spending cash, for example I delivered newspapers, but yard work was seen as a perfect way to teach responsibility to kids. (of course, with gas engines and spinning blades, without much in the way of safety features, it was also a lesson in personal responsibility)
Then something happened. Starting in the late 1980’s (a guess), the advent of video games, and other sedentary activities, coupled with helicopter parents who insist on controlling every aspect of their children’s lives, and that first job was no longer a priority. The moderate affluence of the middle class meant that parents could afford to subsidize the entertainment of their offspring, and thus a generation of kids (Gen X) came to be that got through high school without developing a work ethic.
Now, it is common to see all the neighborhood yards being maintained by various landscaping companies, all offering pretty much the same service, and convenience. And another generation of kids has a reason to not build a work ethic. Newspapers are delivered by adults in cars, and the subscriptions paid by mail. Increasingly, the other route to early work experience (and cash), the fast food restaurant, is going to the less skilled adults who need jobs to live. Where is a kid today to turn to for making some scratch?
Then today, I saw this flyer taped to the mailbox. A couple neighborhood kids are rekindling the entrepreneurial spirit, and going to work cleaning yards. A catchy flyer, a willing, can do, attitude, and a reasonable offer. I hope they kick ass and make something of the opportunity.