Teen Job Market Posts Huge Gains – 13.2% More Employed

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August 15, 2011

As teenagers prepare to head back to school over the next couple of weeks, more will be doing so with a little extra money in their pockets thanks to a stronger summer job market.

Employment among 16- to 19-year-olds grew by a total of 1,087,000 from May through July, according to the latest analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs data by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.  This summer’s job gains are up 13.2 percent from a year ago, when employment among teens grew by only 960,000, the fewest since 1949.

While the teen summer job market improved significantly from the anemic hiring activity in 2010, net employment gains still failed to match the 1,163,000 teen jobs added in 2009 and the 1,154,000 in 2008.  This summer’s job gains were well below pre-recession levels when, from 2004 through 2007, teen employment grew by an average of 1,674,000 jobs between May and July.

The teen summer job market might have been stronger had employers not scaled back the pace of hiring in July.  Only 302,000 net new jobs were found by 16- to 19-year-olds in July, which was down significantly from 2010, when a late summer hiring burst led to the creation of 457,000 new jobs for teens in July.  Between 2000 and 2010, July employment gains for teens averaged nearly 462,000, making the latest reading even more surprising.

“The drop-off in July employment gains among teens corresponded with a sudden increase in uncertainty about the strength of the economic recovery and subsequent decline in consumer confidence, stemming in part from the protracted debate in Washington over raising the debt limit,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“The debt ceiling resolution did not accomplish much when it comes to solving the long-term deficit problem.  The only thing the latest down-to-the wire, political gamesmanship really achieved was to further erode the public’s confidence in Washington’s ability to address the nation’s most pressing issues impacting economic growth and job creation.

“For business owners and store managers deciding whether to hire more workers in late June and early July, the growing uncertainty made the decision not to hire that much easier,” said Challenger.

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