Businesses are counting on teenage workers to staff restaurants, golf clubs, resorts and other hot-weather entertainment spots emerging from pandemic lockdowns. Many employers are struggling to find enough adult workers, and so to fill the gap, they are leaning on teens like never before and heavily courting them to keep businesses running in a busy summer.
For many young adults now flooding into the hot summer labor market, conditions are creating a job bonanza, complete with more accommodating bosses, greater schedule flexibility and even higher pay than in summers past.
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Teens are answering the call to work. In May, the share of 16- to 19-year-olds who work rose to 33.2%, the highest rate since 2008, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. That teenage-employment rate is still far off the near-50% levels of the 1970s, when summer and part-time jobs were more common rites of passage into adulthood. But it marks a sharp rebound from the record-low 20% employment rate among teens in April 2020, shortly after the pandemic set in and dried up millions of lower-wage job opportunities.
Likewise, the unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds dropped in May to 9.6% from 12.3% in April, its lowest level since 1953, according to the federal jobs data.