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Employment landscape leaves teens with many summer job opportunities

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Posted at 4:38 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 16:38:50-04

If you've gone to a restaurant lately, or maybe a salon, you've likely noticed the lingering "help wanted" signs. 

"If we don't get enough (workers), typically what we do is we have a contingency plan where we're open either on weekends or shorter hours during the week, so we can still open but with very limited hours," said Josh Reusser of Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation.

In Salt Lake City, the Parks and Rec. Department needs lifeguards, a summer job typically filled by teens. 

Employers across the country need help, and they're willing to pay. A post for a summer lifeguard position in Charlottesville, Virginia, is offering $15 an hour. 

"Kids have lost two years of maturity," said Marie Schwartz, Chief Executive at TeenLife.

Marie Schwartz runs TeenLife Media, a national online directory of enrichment programs and activities for teens, grades 7 through 12. During the pandemic, teen summer employment hit a new low. Two years later, Schwartz says it's imperative for this age group to catch up on critical life experiences. 

"I think jobs are extremely valuable. There's nothing like getting a paycheck. Especially jobs involving the public, I think those are probably the most valuable jobs for teenagers; working as a lifeguard, at a supermarket, restaurant or snack bar," said Schwartz. 

Schwartz said in addition to working a summer job, activity or program is another great way for teenagers to socialize with their peers and make new connections. TeenLife currently lists more than 4,000 summer programs, including hundreds of free ones in various areas of interest. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one-third of U.S. teens aged 16 to19 are currently working.

The most recent numbers show unemployment in that age group was 10.2% in April. Last April, a then-record 4 million people quit their jobs, and teenagers willing to work became highly sought after. That month, 16 to 19-year-olds were hired more than any other age group, the Bureau of Labor reported.

This summer, thanks to a tight labor market and rising wages in hourly jobs, that momentum is still going strong. 

"We are reaffirming our commitment to our young people in the city of New York," said New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

The New York City Mayor announced a record 100,000 summer youth employment opportunities. Mayors of Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago are also pushing summer internships, jobs, and programs to keep youth busy and set them up for success in the future.

"And that is the charge I am giving my city agencies. You do internship programs. I want to walk inside and see the children of my city," said Adams. 

Schwartz says it's also up to parents to get teens involved this summer.

"You just have to involve them in that decision and say, ok, search for 3 jobs on this website or look for 3 programs on TeenLife and let's talk about it," said Schwartz.

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