More Teens Working for More Pay as Summer Jobs Season Kicks Off

The number of American teenagers who had jobs in May was at its highest level in 15 years. Some 5.56 million teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were working in May.

On the other side of the coin, just 50,000 teens were hired in May, the lowest total since 2010. In May of last year, 153,000 teens found jobs. (These American jobs had no union members last year.)

The data was reported Tuesday by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The report supports an April statement by Andrew Challenger, the firm’s senior vice president, who noted, “Teens that want jobs are basically working right now.”

In the May report, Challenger commented:

The jobs are there. Despite the potential for a recession on the horizon, inflation is easing and consumer spending has not fallen as much as some economists expected. Summer camps and community pools are up and running and need workers. … This is a great time for teens who want jobs to actively look for work. Amusement parks, pools and beaches, grocery stores, summer camps, zoos and museums, childcare facilities all need workers and offer great first jobs for teens.

June is typically the month that sees the most teens getting a job. Last year, 885,000 teens found jobs in June. For the three summer hiring months of 2022, 1.239 million teens had jobs. The 15-year high for teen employment came in 2021, with 2.192 million teens securing summer jobs.

Even better news for teen job seekers is that pay rates are improving. The average hourly wage for teen workers (ages 15 through 19) was $14.89 in May, an increase of about $1.00 an hour compared to pay in May 2022. According to the Rhode Island College 2023 Summer Job Outlook for American Teens, nearly 33% of teens (16 to 19) had jobs last year. That percentage had risen to nearly 34% as of April.

And the overall labor participation rate for teens has risen to around 37% as of May. Teen workers had been increasing their participation rate since about 2014 until the pandemic sent the numbers plummeting to around 30%. Since then, the trend of more teens working has regained strength. According to a report at Axios, more teens are now working during the school year, not only during the summer.

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