Pittsburgh Summer Staples, roller-coaster operators and lemonade slingers at Kennywood Amusement Park will not have to buy their uniforms this year. People with a high school diploma will also earn $ 13 as starting salaries – up from $ 9 last year – and new hires are getting free season passes for themselves and their families.
The big pop in salaries and perks for Kennywood’s seasonal work force, where about half of employees are under 18, is what’s happening across the country as employers scramble to hire waiters, receptionists and other service workers to The growing demand can be met as the economy reopens.
For American teenagers looking for work, this may be the best summer in years.
As companies try to move from employees to employees for practically overnight, teenagers are winning more than any demographic group. Share of 16- to 19-year-olds Who are working It has not been high since 2008, before the global financial crisis sent employment declines. In April, approximately 256,000 teenagers in that age group gained employment – counting for the vast majority of newly employed people – a significant change after a sharp job loss to teenagers at the onset of the epidemic. Whether this trend may catch up when the jobs data for May is released on Friday will become clear.
This can come with a downside. Some teachers warn that jobs can distract from school. And while employment itself may offer learning opportunities, the most recent wave of hiring has been led by white teenagers, raising concerns that youth from minority groups may miss the hot summer labor market.
“A rising tide is not lifting all boats,” said Alicia Sasser Modestino, an economist at Northeastern University who studies labor markets for young people. Still, “there may be some really good opportunities for the youth that we haven’t seen in a long time – that’s good.”
For 17-year-old Hayley Bailey from Irvine, PA, Kennywood’s summer recruiting push means a chance to earn more toward the car she’s hoping to buy. Ms. Bailey, a recent high school graduate, was excited to run a job Antique roller coaster And when she thought it paid $ 9 she took people in a paddle boat – so when she found out that the park was paying $ 13 an hour, she was thrilled.
“I love it,” he said. She doesn’t even avoid walking backwards on the carousel to check that everyone is riding safely, although it can be distracting. “When you look at young children and they give you high-fives, it doesn’t matter.”
It is not just Kennywood paying. A database compiled by payroll platform Gusto found small businesses raising teen wages in service sector jobs in recent months, said Luke Pardew, an economist at the company. The teen took a hit at the onset of the epidemic, but returned to his pre-coronavirus salary level in March 2021 and spent the first part of May observing his salary boom.
“It’s great that the economy and small businesses have this relief valve,” Mr. Pardew said. “From the point of view of gaining experience and making money, it is a positive development.”
For employers, teenagers can be a new important source of ready labor at a time when demand is rising again and job opportunities are becoming vacant.
Health concerns and childcare challenges appear to be preventing some older employees from taking up jobs quickly. Extended unemployment insurance benefits can also provide the necessary financial support to workers for better opportunities. Complicating those challenges is that the United States is issuing very few immigrant work visas during an epidemic due to travel and other restrictions, so employees from abroad who typically fill temporary aid, agricultural, and seasonal positions are likely to be in labor. Are missing from the market.
Hiring crunch can be felt throughout the country.
Restaurants up and down Cape Cod have long relied on seasonal workers to prepare lobster rolls, tend bars and bus tables. But with increasing housing prices keeping fewer workers coming from abroad and domestic seasonal workers, jobs have been difficult to fill, said Will Moore, a manager at Spanky’s Clam Shack and Seaside Salon in Hyannis, Mass.
“I think everyone is hoping that when the college kids come here and the high school kids graduate, it will put a band-aid on the hole,” he said.
In business today
With rising temperatures in Henderson, Ky., Officials worried that they would not have enough lifeguards to open their own public pool for the summer.
In mid-May, he had about six applicants for the job, who paid a starting salary of $ 8.50 per hour; The city needs at least eight lifeguards a day to run the entire pool safely. Limited interest reflects a full storm: The pool was not open due to the epidemic last year, so there were no lifeguards to recruit from 2020, and lured teen workers to higher wages at local fast-food and big box retail jobs I went.
City government government on 25 May Initial salary increased 10 dollars per hour and the minimum age for applicants was reduced from 16 years to 15 years. It seems to have worked: More teenagers applied and the city has begun interviewing candidates for open positions.
Trace Stevens, director of city parks, said, “Between 2020 and 2021, it seems that a lot of retail starting salaries have really skyrocketed, and if we want to be competitive and get qualified applicants, we have to Just have to follow suit. ” And entertainment.
Teens are earning more than just fat salaries as employers try to woo applicants. Kennywood workers are receiving season park passes for themselves and three family members – a bonus of about $ 300. Applebee offered a “Apps for apps“The deal in which applicants interviewed received a free appetizer voucher. Restaurants and gas stations across the country are offering signing bonuses.
But perks and better pay may not reach everyone. White teenagers lost heavy employment at the onset of the epidemic, and they and Profit led In 2021, even though black teenagers have comparatively few couples and Hispanic teens have actually lost jobs. It is continuing a long-running inequality in which white teenagers operate in vast numbers, and this gap may worsen if the current trajectory continues.
Ms. Sasser Modestino said that limited access to transportation is a factor that may prevent minority teenagers from working. In addition, while places like Cape Cod and suburban neighborhoods have begun to boom, some urban centers with public transportation have low foot traffic, which can harm teenagers living in cities.
“We have yet to see demand,” said Joseph McLaughlin, director of research and evaluation at the Boston Private Industry Council, which helps put students into paid internships and helps others apply to private employers such as grocery stores .
Ms. Sasser Modestino’s research found that the teen’s prolonged decline in work came partly from a shift toward college preparation and internships, but many teenagers still need and want a job for economic reasons Huh. Yet teenagers have traditionally had diminished types of jobs – blockbuster gigs are a thing of the past – and older workers increasingly fill them.
Anthony P., director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. The teens who are now benefiting, Carnevale said, will not be able to rely on a favorable labor market for the long term.
“There can definitely be a brief positive impact, as youth can go into a lot of jobs where adults have retreated for whatever reason,” he said. “It’s going to be temporary, because we always take care of adults first.”
Teachers have expressed a different concern: that today’s plentiful and prosperous teenage jobs may distract students from their studies.
When classroom education resumed last August at Torrington High School, which serves 330 students in a small town in Wyoming, Principal Chase Christenson found that about 10 of his older students were not returning. He had taken up a full-time job, including working in a night shift at a nursing home and working in a gravel pit, and was reluctant to pay money. Five have since dropped out of high school or failed.
“He got used to the salary of a full-time worker,” Mr. Christensen said. “They are getting jobs that high school students usually don’t get.”
It can also cause trouble if prospects of better jobs in the near term overtake teenagers’ plans for additional education or training. Economic research consistently finds that people who manage to receive additional training have better-paid careers.
Nevertheless, Ms. Sasser Modestino pointed out that many of the recruitments now taking place are for summer jobs, with little chance of school intervention. And may be counterproductive. For people like Ms. Bailey, this means an opportunity to save for textbooks and on-the-road tuition. She wants to go to a community college to complete something else, and then pursue an engineering degree.
“I’ve always been interested in robots, I like programming and coding,” she said, explaining how roller coasters work to suit her educational interests.
Shaila Bentley, 18, and a freshman season passer at Kennywood, said the higher the salary she is earning, the more she will allow her to decorate her dorm room at Slippery Rock University. She is an emerging sophistication this year, studying exercise science.
“I wanted to save money for school and expenses,” she said. “And something has to be done this summer.”