teen workers are in high demand and can expect higher pay
The summer season has arrived, and teen workers are in high demand. Businesses will be on the lookout for trustworthy and diligent teenagers to fill positions in retail sales, food service, hospitality, and other fields as Summer camps, amusement parks, and restaurants have long relied on teenagers for staffing they ramp up operations to meet the demands of summer vacationers. This year, there will be many job openings available, unlike in previous years when teenagers had to compete with college graduates or other job seekers for scarce opportunities.
They now have even more power because there are a variety of jobs available at ever-rising wages, thanks to one of the tightest labor markets in decades.
To the dismay of labor rights organizations, who see it as a worrying trend, some states are moving to roll back restrictions to let teens work more hours and, in some cases, more dangerous jobs to ease the labor shortage.
According to economists, alternative ways to increase the workforce that doesn’t involve burdening children anymore, such as by allowing more legal immigration.
SEEKING WORKERS UNDER 18 or 19
Teenagers play a crucial role in keeping the attractions open at Funtown Splashtown USA, an amusement park in southern Maine, as it isn’t as simple as it once was.
In contrast to previous summers when more than 500 employees were hired, general manager Cory Hutchinson anticipates hiring about 350 people this summer, many of whom will be local high school students.
To staff the facility seven days a week and into the evenings, he claimed, “We do not have enough people.” This summer, Funtown Splashtown will close at 6 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., and it will only be open six days a week.
According to government statistics, 34% of Americans between the ages of 16 and 19 were employed in April. In the previous pre-pandemic four years, that contrasts with 30%.
For those who want them, there are more jobs available: The Labour Department estimates that there are 1.6 open jobs for every unemployed person. That ratio typically hovers around 1:1.
Finding enough teen employees hasn’t been a problem at RideAway Adventures on Cape Cod, which provides kayak, bike, and paddleboard rentals as well as tours. Owner Mike Morrison explains it by saying that compared to other options, RideAway is a desirable place to work. They get to be outside and active instead of washing dishes, according to Morrison. And he would increase the wages of trusted employees by up to 50% per hour by EOD of July to satisfy them in summer. New hires start at $15 an hour.
Maxen Lucas, a senior at Lincoln Academy in Maine who will graduate this year, worked his first job as a dishwasher at a summer camp when he was 15 years old. He then worked as a grocery bagger before starting a landscaping business. Young workers now have more options, he claimed.
The Nobleboro, North Carolina, resident who will attend Maine Maritime Academy this fall, who is 18 years old, claimed that “after Covid settled down, everyone was being paid more.”
Indeed, in April, hourly wages at restaurants, shops, and amusement parks—the sectors most likely to employ teenagers—rose by about 5% from a year earlier. Before the pandemic, these industries’ pay increases were usually limited to 3% per year.
The Virginia G. Piper Boys & Girls Club in Scottsdale, Arizona is where Addison Beer, 17, will work this summer. There, she feels a strong connection with her coworkers and the children she works with.
She temporarily accepted a job at Zinburger, a restaurant that needed staff, due to a scheduling conflict. She said, “They just asked me a few questions and were like, ‘Oh, you’re hired!'”
Finding the best pay isn’t always the goal of a summer job for many teenagers.
Christopher Au, 19, has served ice cream at J.P. Licks in Boston for the past few months. He said, “Having a job is just so I can sustain myself, be more independent, and not rely on my parents too much”.
Jack Gervais, 18, of Cumberland, Maine, has secured a photography internship at a cultural institution where he will make roughly the minimum wage of $13.80 per hour while gaining experience relevant to his future career goals. However, he claimed that many of the children he knows are looking for higher-paying jobs and getting them.
“Unless there were significant tips involved, nobody I know would work for minimum wage”
EXPANDING TEEN HOURS
A law allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to work up to 50 hours per week during the summer when the state’s shore economy booms with tourists, was passed in New Jersey in 2022. Previously, the weekly cap was 40 hours.
Parents have applauded the measure.
Billy, Sally Rutherford’s 17-year-old son, was looking forward to the change, the 56-year-old mother from North Wildwood, New Jersey, said. He’ll be able to help pay for a car with the money he makes working as a game operator at an amusement park on the Jersey Shore.
He becomes much more independent and responsible as a result, she claimed.
Different ideas to increase the employment of teenagers are being considered by other states.
Legislators in Wisconsin are in favor of letting 14-year-olds serve alcohol in bars and restaurants. A bill extending the number of hours that minors can work and allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to serve alcohol in restaurants was signed into law in Iowa by the governor on Friday.
Child welfare advocates are concerned that the measures are part of a coordinated effort to weaken the hard-won safeguards for children.
ONE FACTOR IS IMMIGRATION
The country’s ability to grow for years in the face of an aging population has been largely attributed to legal immigration, according to economists, who believe that it is a crucial solution to the workforce shortage.
To staff establishments like restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions, many resort towns rely on immigrants with summer visas. However, as the federal government tightened restrictions during the COVID outbreak, immigration dropped significantly. Nearly 285,000 summer visas were granted in 2022, a decrease from the approximately 350,000 granted before the pandemic.
In comparison to pre-pandemic trends, the Federal Reserve estimated in March that the overall decline in immigration has cost the United States close to one million workers. Despite returning to pre-COVID levels, the effects are still being felt in the immigration sector.
THE LABOUR CRUNCH IS STARTING TO RISE
Baby Boomers reaching retirement age is another factor putting pressure on the labor market. According to estimates from the Federal Reserve, an increase in retirements has resulted in a loss of 2 million jobs in the economy.
Nevertheless, despite the considerable difficulties employers must overcome this summer, labor shortages are much less of a concern than they were in 2021 when the pandemic made many people reluctant to return to customer-facing jobs. Inflation has increased, which has encouraged many people to look for work to support their families by paying the rent and food.
2 million Americans who had been out of the workforce for the previous six months have now started working or looking for work. The proportion of Americans aged 25 to 54 who are employed or looking for work has risen above pre-pandemic levels.
The labor shortage brought on by the pandemic has made it challenging for many employers to find qualified candidates. As a result, many businesses are paying employees more than usual in an effort to attract candidates for these positions.
Now is the time for teenagers who are thinking about taking a summer job this year as an introduction to the workforce or just want some extra spending money before returning to school!
Find a job that suits you best with the higher pay rates being offered than ever before and the variety of work options available, from traditional retail jobs at your neighborhood mall or supermarket chains up to entry-level tech company internships.