Teen employees are in excessive demand for summer time and commanding higher pay

May 27, 2023 | blog

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BOSTON (AP) — Teens have lengthy been important to filling out {the summertime} staffs of eating places, ice cream stands, amusement parks and camps.

Now, because of one of many tightest labor markets in many years, they’ve much more sway, with an array of jobs to select from at ever larger wages.

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To ease the labor crunch, some states are shifting to roll again restrictions to let teenagers work extra hours and, in some instances, extra hazardous jobs — a lot to the chagrin of labor rights teams, who see it as a troubling development.

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Economists say there are different methods to broaden the workforce with out placing extra of a burden on youngsters, together with by permitting extra authorized immigration.


At Funtown Splashtown USA, an amusement park in southern Maine, teenagers play a crucial position in conserving the points of interest open, which isn’t as straightforward because it was once.

General Manager Cory Hutchinson anticipates hiring about 350 employees this summer time, together with many native excessive schoolers, in contrast with greater than 500 in previous summers.

“We literally do not have enough people to staff the place seven days a week and into the evenings,” he mentioned. This summer time, Funtown Splashtown will solely be open six days per week, and can shut at 6 p.m., as a substitute of 9 p.m.

In April, almost 34% of Americans aged 16 to 19 had jobs, in response to authorities information. That compares with 30% 4 years in the past, the final pre-pandemic summer time.

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More jobs can be found for many who need them: There are roughly 1.6 jobs open for each individual that’s unemployed, in response to the Labor Department. In regular instances, that ratio is about 1:1.

At RideAway Adventures on Cape Cod, which affords kayak, bike and paddleboard leases and excursions, discovering sufficient teen employees hasn’t been a problem. Owner Mike Morrison chalks it as much as the truth that RideAway is a fascinating place to work in contrast with different choices.

“They’re not washing dishes and they get to be outside and active,” Morrison mentioned.

Plus, whereas he sometimes begins off new teen hires at $15 an hour, the state’s minimal wage, he’ll bump up the pay of laborious employees by as a lot as 50 cents per hour towards the tip of July to assist hold them via the tip of summer time.

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Maxen Lucas, a graduating senior at Lincoln Academy in Maine, had his first job at 15 as a summer time camp dishwasher, adopted by a stint as a grocery bagger earlier than stepping into landscaping. He mentioned younger employees could be choosier now.

“After COVID settled down, everyone was being paid more,” mentioned the 18-year-old from Nobleboro who’ll head off to Maine Maritime Academy this fall.

Indeed, hourly pay jumped about 5% in April from a yr in the past at eating places, retailers and amusement parks, the industries more likely to make use of teenagers. Before the pandemic, pay in these industries sometimes rose not more than 3% yearly.

Addison Beer, 17, will work this summer time on the Virginia G. Piper department of the Boys & Girls Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, the place she feels a robust reference to colleagues and the children she helps out.

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Because of a scheduling battle, she quickly took a job at Zinburger, a restaurant that was determined for employees. “They just asked me a few questions and were like, ‘Oh, you’re hired!”‘ she said.

For many teens, the point of a summer job doesn’t must be about discovering the very best pay out there.

“Having a job is just so I can sustain myself, be more independent, not rely on my parents too much,” mentioned Christopher Au, 19, who has been meting out ice cream at a J.P. Licks in Boston for the previous few months.

Jack Gervais, 18, of Cumberland, Maine, lined up an internship taking pictures pictures at an arts venue and can earn roughly the minimal wage of $13.80 an hour whereas gaining expertise that relate to his profession objectives. But he mentioned many youngsters he is aware of are looking for — and commanding — larger paying jobs.

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“Nobody I know would work for minimum wage, unless there were major tips involved,” he mentioned.


New Jersey handed a legislation in 2022 permitting 16- and 17-year-olds to work as much as 50 hours per week throughout the summer time, when the state’s shore economic system swells with vacationers. The earlier restrict was 40 hours per week.

The measure has earned reward from mother and father.

Sally Rutherford, 56, of North Wildwood, New Jersey, mentioned her 17-year-old son, Billy, was excited in regards to the change. With the cash he earns working as a sport operator at a Jersey Shore amusement park, he’ll be capable to assist pay for a automotive.

“It makes him a much more independent and responsible,” she mentioned.

Other states are contemplating quite a lot of proposals to broaden teenagers’ position within the office.

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In Wisconsin, lawmakers are backing a proposal to permit 14-year-olds to serve alcohol in bars and eating places. In Iowa, the governor signed a invoice into legislation Friday that can permit 16- and 17-year-olds to serve alcohol in eating places, and to broaden the hours minors can work.

Child welfare advocates fear the measures characterize a coordinated push to reduce hard-won protections for minors.


Economists say permitting extra authorized immigration is a key answer to workforce shortages, noting that it has been central to the nation’s potential to develop for years within the face of an ageing inhabitants.

Many resort cities depend on immigrants with summer time visas to workers companies reminiscent of eating places, accommodations, and vacationer websites. But immigration fell sharply throughout the COVID outbreak because the federal authorities tightened restrictions. In 2022, almost 285,000 of the summer time visas had been issued, down from about 350,000 earlier than the pandemic.

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The Federal Reserve in March estimated that the general drop in immigration has price the United States almost a million employees, in contrast with pre-pandemic developments. Immigration is rebounding to pre-COVID ranges, however the results are nonetheless being felt.


Another issue straining the labor market is Baby Boomers reaching retirement age. The Federal Reserve calculates that rising retirements has left the economic system with about 2 million fewer employees.

Yet regardless of the numerous challenges employers face this summer time, labor shortages are a lot much less of an issue than they had been in 2021, when the pandemic made many individuals reluctant to return to consumer-facing jobs. Higher inflation has additionally incentivized many individuals to hunt work to assist their households cowl meals and hire.

In simply the previous six months, 2 million Americans who had been out of the workforce have taken jobs or began on the lookout for one. The share of Americans aged 25 via 54 who’re working or job-hunting is now above pre-pandemic ranges.

Associated Press writers Chris Rugaber in Washington, David Sharp in Portland, Maine, and Alina Hartounian in Scottsdale, Arizona, contributed to this report.


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