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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

It’s a hot summer job market for youth

Working as a lifeguard was a dangerous job in “Stranger Things.”

A red-hot summer job market awaits teenagers, reports Paul Wiseman and Mae Anderson for AP. Employers are raising pay and perks to lure seasonal workers.

Summer employment has dropped in recent years as teenagers focus on college prep, but the numbers will rise this summer predicts Drexel’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy. An estimate one-third youths 16 to 19 will be employed say researchers. That’s the highest number since the summer of 2007, but way below the peak in 1978, when half of teenagers had jobs.

“Teenage employment went into a decade-long slide” starting in 2000, Wiseman and Anderson write. “In June 2010, during the agonizingly slow recovery from the 2007-2009 Great Recession, teenage employment bottomed at 25 percent before slowly rising again as the economy recovered.”

The U.S. economy now offers fewer low-skill, entry-level jobs — ready-made for teens — than in the 1970s and 1980s. Many such jobs that do remain, from supermarket clerk to fast-food burger flipper, are increasingly likely to be taken by older workers, many of them immigrants.

Affluent teens are more likely to choose enrichment classes, travel, sports or college application-enhancing service projects rather than scooping ice cream or lifeguarding.

However, less-advantaged students seem to be looking for alternative paths to adulthood. College enrollment is falling as young people “question whether college is the ticket to the middle class and a good-paying job,” reports Stephanie Saul in the New York Times.

As employers try to restaff after cuts early in the pandemic, “teenagers are in much greater demand,” they note. Entry-level workers can earn $15 or $16 an hour.

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