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Jobs for Teens Will Be Plentiful This Summer, Experts Say

Teenagers seeking work will probably find ample jobs with good pay available this summer, economists say.

The robust labor market this year, along with shortages of workers in the summer jobs that teenagers usually fill, like in hospitality and leisure, suggests good prospects, said Paul Harrington, a labor economist at Rhode Island College who is part of a team that produces an annual summer job forecast for teenagers.

Their analysis predicts that the share of 16- to 19-year-olds working this season will rise to 33.6 percent, from 32.7 percent last year.

The outlook is strong despite worries about a potential economic slowdown. The labor market overall has proved resilient, with 339,000 jobs added in May even as the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.7 percent, from 3.4 percent in April.

“Obviously, there are storm clouds over the summer outlook,” said Nick Bunker, the director of North American economic research at the job search website Indeed. The Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates to cool inflation, stirring concerns about a possible recession.

Even so, Mr. Bunker said demand to fill positions this summer was strong. Alicia Sasser Modestino, an associate professor of public policy and urban affairs and economics at Northeastern University in Boston, agreed, though “it may not be quite as gangbusters as last summer,” she said.

The pandemic kept job opportunities tight in 2020, but summer employment rebounded the next year and remained strong last summer.

Teen summer wages have risen in recent years, even after accounting for inflation, Mr. Harrington said. Last summer, the median hourly pay for teenagers rose to $14, from $11.50 in 2019. In some parts of the country, pay for certain jobs, lifeguards in particular, has spiked. In New York City, a shortage of lifeguards has pushed wages above $20 an hour.

Restaurants expect to add 502,000 seasonal jobs this summer, the strongest hiring picture since 2017, according to the National Restaurant Association. (The group did not include numbers for the past three summers, saying the pandemic years were “not typical” hiring seasons.)

In May, the unemployment rate for teenagers rose to 10.3 percent, up from 9.2 percent in April but little changed from 10.5 percent a year ago, according to seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics bureau.

The outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas expects that more than one million jobs will be created for teenagers this summer, slightly fewer than last year. However, young people have already been working at higher rates than they had in years, said Andy Challenger, the company’s senior vice president. In March, about 5.48 million workers ages 16 to 19 were employed, the firm noted, the highest total since 2007, when 5.61 million teenagers were employed (based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that was not seasonally adjusted).

While amusement parks, pools, restaurants and other entertainment spots will certainly need summer workers, Mr. Challenger said, the question is whether teenagers will take the jobs. “So many teens who want to work are already working,” he said.

Still, those seeking summer work shouldn’t wait to apply, Mr. Bunker, from Indeed, said. “Don’t wait until late June.”

Here are some questions and answers about teenagers and summer jobs:

Many students must work in the summer to support themselves and their families or save for college. But even if it’s just for extra spending money, the benefits of a summer job go beyond earning cash, said Amy Carney, a mother of six and the author of “Parent on Purpose,” a book about raising children.

Teenagers, she said, “become stronger through the uncomfortable and inconvenient experiences that come with working at a local restaurant, grocery store or other service industry jobs.”

Isaac Hertenstein, 17 and a rising senior in Greencastle, Ind., started a nonprofit that recruits student volunteers to teach money skills to younger students. He agreed about the importance of summer jobs.

“It’s the ultimate financial literacy lesson for teenagers,” he said, adding that summer jobs reinforce basics like showing up on time and the value of money. “It’s a big difference,” he said, if your parents give you $10 for lunch with friends, “or if it’s money you actually worked for.” He said he hoped to work as a landscaper to save for college and will gain experience as a research assistant in consumer science at a university.

Tim Ranzetta, a founder of Next Gen Personal Finance, a nonprofit that makes lessons about money management for schools, said he worked summers as a golf caddie, which helped pay for college and allowed him to spend long hours with golfers who shared insights into the business world. He compared summer work to a financial “boot camp,” introducing skills like creating job applications, navigating tax forms, opening a bank account or arranging for direct deposits of paychecks.

Apply to multiple jobs, Ms. Modestino, the professor at Northeastern University, said. Young people can be “wildly optimistic” about their hiring prospects, she said, and might think that just because they submitted one application, they will be offered a position. But more applications can yield multiple offers, potentially giving you options for higher pay or flexible schedules.

Ask people you know if they are aware of openings, and don’t dismiss jobs that might lack an obvious link to your career interests. Aadi Gujral, 17, a rising high school senior in Danville, Calif., who created a money skills app for young people, said he was interested in working in finance and had done projects for his entrepreneur father. But he also said he had worked picking blueberries on his uncle’s farm.

“It exposes you to the real world,” he said. “And when you are earning your own money, you quickly realize the importance of every dollar.”

Yes. Summer employment can introduce teenagers to the benefit of savings, not only for short-term purchases but also for long-term security, said John Lanza, the author of “The Art of Allowance,” a book about teaching children to be financially literate. “It opens up conversations.”

Teenagers with earned income can contribute to a special retirement account known as a Roth individual retirement account. Setting aside even a small amount of earnings can start them on a path toward long-term saving, Mr. Lanza said, and parents may consider matching contributions as an incentive. Unlike money put into a traditional I.R.A., Roth I.R.A. contributions aren’t tax-deductible — but most teenagers don’t make enough to pay much income tax, so deductions are less helpful to them. Money invested in a Roth grows tax-free, and can be withdrawn tax-free as long as certain rules are followed.

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Mohammad SHiblu

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