The luckiest workers in America? Teenagers.



Roller coaster operators and lemonade lovers at Kennywood Amusement Park, a staple summer food in Pittsburgh, won’t have to buy a uniform this year. Those with a high school diploma will also receive $ 13 in starting salary – up from $ 9 last year – and new hires receive free seasonal passes for themselves and their families.

Big wage and benefit increases for Kennywood’s seasonal workforce, where nearly half of employees are under 18, echoes what’s happening across the country as employers try to hire waiters, administrators, and other service workers to meet rising demand as it recovers. economy.

For American teen job seekers, this could be the best summer in years.

As companies try to move from under-staffed to full-time staff almost overnight, teens seem to benefit more than any demographic. Proportion of adolescents aged 16-19 Who works has not been that high since 2008, before the onset of the global financial crisis led to a sharp drop in employment. Some 256,000 teenagers in this age group got jobs in April, counting the vast majority of new hires, a significant change after teenagers lost their jobs abruptly at the onset of the pandemic. Whether this trend can continue will become clear when the May employment data is released on Friday.

This may have a downside. Some educators warn that work can be a distraction from learning. And while employment itself may offer training opportunities, the latest wave of recruiting has been led by white teenagers, raising fears that young people from minority groups might miss out on the hot summer job market.

“The tide doesn’t lift all boats,” said Alicia Sasser Modestino, an economist at Northeastern University who studies labor markets for youth. However, “young people can have really good opportunities that we haven’t seen in a long time – that’s good.”

For Hayley Bailey, a 17-year-old from Irvine, Pennsylvania, Kennywood’s summer hiring meant the opportunity to earn more money for the car she hopes to buy. Ms. Bailey, a recent high school graduate, was delighted to get a job, vintage roller coaster and shoving people into catamarans when she thought they were paying $ 9 for it – so when she found out that the park was raising wages to $ 13 an hour, she was in awe.

“I love it,” she said. She doesn’t even mind backing up the carousel to make sure everyone is driving safely, although it can be disorienting. “After you see the little children and they give you five, it doesn’t really matter.”

Kennywood wasn’t the only one paying. According to Luke Pardue, the company’s economist, small businesses in a database compiled by payroll platform Gusto have been raising teen wages in service jobs in recent months. Teens were hit at the start of the pandemic but returned to their pre-coronavirus wage levels in March 2021 and spent the first half of May watching their wages surpass that level.

“It’s great that the economy and small businesses have this safety valve,” said Mr. Pardue. “In terms of gaining experience and making money, this is a positive thing.”

For employers, adolescents can become an important new source of ready-made labor at a time when demand is recovering and vacancies remain unfilled.

Health and childcare issues seem to be preventing some older workers from finding work quickly. Expanded unemployment insurance benefits can also give workers the financial support they need to take advantage of better opportunities. These problems are compounded by the fact that the United States issues far fewer immigrant work visas during the pandemic due to travel and other restrictions, so employees from overseas, who are usually in temporary assistance, agricultural and seasonal positions, are out of the labor market.

The shortage of staff is felt throughout the country.

Restaurants up and down Cape Cod have long relied on seasonal workers to prepare lobster rolls, bar tables and bus tables. But it has become difficult to fill jobs with fewer workers coming from overseas, and rising house prices are keeping seasonal domestic workers away from home, said Will Moore, manager of Spanky’s Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

“I think everyone hopes that when the college kids come here and the students graduate from school, it will cover the holes with tape,” he said.

With temperatures rising in Henderson, Kentucky, officials worried they wouldn’t have enough lifeguards to open their only public pool for the summer.

In mid-May, they had about six job applicants who received a starting salary of $ 8.50 an hour; the city needs at least eight lifeguards on duty a day to safely manage a full pool. Limited interest mirrored a perfect storm: the pool didn’t open last year due to the pandemic, so there were no lifeguards to hire as of 2020, and teenage workers were lured into higher salaries at local fast foods and big boxes.

City government May 25 raised starting salary to $ 10 an hour and lowered the minimum age for applicants from 16 to 15. It looks like it worked: more teens applied, and the city began interviewing candidates for open positions.

“Between 2020 and 2021, it seems like a lot of retail start-up salaries really jumped and we just had to follow suit if we wanted to be competitive and get qualified candidates,” said Trace Stevens, director of parks for the city. and rest.

Teens earn more than just big paychecks as employers try to lure job seekers. Kennywood workers receive seasonal parking tickets for themselves and three family members — a bonus of approximately $ 300. Applebee offers “Apps for apps“A deal in which interviewed candidates received a voucher for a free snack. Restaurants and gas stations across the country are offering signature bonuses.

But benefits and better pay may not reach everyone. White teenagers lost their jobs badly at the start of the pandemic, and they led to success in 2021, despite the fact that black teens gained relatively little, and Hispanic teens actually lost their jobs. This continues a long-standing inequality in which white adolescents work in much larger numbers, and the gap could widen if the current trajectory continues.

More limited access to transport is one factor that may deter minority adolescents from working, Ms Sasser Modestino said. In addition, while places such as Cape Cod and suburban areas are starting to thrive, some urban centers with public transportation still have little foot traffic, which can disadvantage teenagers living in cities.

“We haven’t noticed the demand yet,” said Joseph McLaughlin, director of research and evaluation at the Boston Private Industry Council, which helps arrange paid internships for students and helps others apply to private employers such as grocery stores.

Research by Ms. Sasser Modestino found that the long-term decline in adolescent activity is partly due to the transition to college preparation and internships, but many adolescents still need and want to work for economic reasons. However, the jobs traditionally occupied by teenagers have declined – concerts at Blockbuster are a thing of the past – and older workers are increasingly filling them.

Teens benefiting now may not expect a favorable job market in the long run, said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center for Education and Workforce.

“There may be a short-term positive effect as young people can move to many jobs where adults quit for whatever reason,” he said. “It will be temporary because we always take care of adults first.”

Educators are voicing a different concern: today’s plentiful and thriving teenage jobs can distract students from their studies.

When classroom resumed last August at Torrington High School, which serves 330 students in a small Wyoming town, Principal Chase Christensen found that about 10 of his older students had not returned. They took full-time jobs, including working night shifts in a nursing home and working in a gravel pit, and were reluctant to give up money. Five have since dropped out or never graduated from high school.

“They are used to being paid a full-time employee,” said Mr Christensen. “They get jobs that high school students usually don’t get.”

If better job prospects in the near future surpass adolescents’ plans for further education or training, that could also mean problems. Economic research has consistently shown that those who succeed in complementary training have better-paying careers.

However, Ms Sasser Modestino noted that most of the hiring is now in summer jobs, which are less likely to interfere with studies. And this may have its advantages. For people like Ms. Bailey, this means being able to save on textbooks and learning in the future. She would like to go to community college to pass the prerequisites and then complete her engineering degree.

“I’ve always been interested in robots, I love programming and coding,” she said, explaining that learning how roller coasters work is in line with her academic interests.

Sheila Bentley, 18, who recently won a membership to Kennywood, said the higher-than-expected wages she earns will allow her to decorate her dorm room at Slippery Rock University. This year she enters her sophomore year and is studying exercise science.

“I wanted to save money for school and other expenses,” she said. “And there’s plenty to do this summer.”


Source link