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The Teen Summer Job Is Back

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Female hand is holding a vanilla with dried fruit ice cream in waffle cone. Ice cream fridge with steel service containers in background. Worker in ice cream shop.

The Atlantic, June 2024

Summer vacation: a time when many teens head to their gigs as camp counselors, cashiers, ice-cream scoopers, or—if they’re lucky, as I was one summer—pencil pushers in an air-conditioned local office. The summer job is a chance for teens to make money, learn new skills (even if the learning is interspersed with heavy doses of drudgery), and stay busy in the months between school years. In the 1970s and ’80s, working at least part-time in the summer was the norm for teenagers, but the teen job became much less popular in recent decades, especially after the Great Recession made employment harder to come by.

Now summer jobs are so back. Since the tight labor market of 2021 pushed entry-level wages up and left businesses with a tranche of openings to fill, more and more young adults have been clocking in. About 38 percent of 16-to-19-year-olds were either working or looking for work in May, according to federal data released earlier this month—rates that, until this year, hadn’t been seen since the summer of 2009. Teen labor-force participation has been up year-round in recent years but has tended to spike in the summer months.

Continue reading at The Atlantic.

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