Teen Summer Employment Strongest in 7 Years

Posted July 09, 2013 by
John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas

John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas

Teen hiring got off to its strongest start in seven years in 2013, but heavy employment gains in May appear to have caused employers to pull back slightly in June.  However, with 994,000 16- to -19-year-olds finding seasonal positions so far this summer, it is still possible that teen hiring could outpace 2012, according to John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

A Challenger analysis of just-released government employment data found that employers added 215,000 teenagers to their payrolls in May.  That is the largest number of teens hired in May since 2006, when employment among 16- to 19-year-olds expanded by 230,000 in the first month of the summer hiring season. 

The latest non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that another 779,000 teens found employment in June.  That was down from June 2012, when teen employment grew by 858,000.  Overall, the 994,000 teens finding jobs so far this summer is down 2.1 percent from the 1,015,000 teen job winners in May and June of last year.

“While teen hiring is down slightly from a year ago, these remain some of the strongest summer employment figures we have seen since the recession began in 2008.  In 2010, employers added just 960,000 16- to 19-year-olds over the entire summer hiring period from May through July.  Hiring has already surpassed that level this year and, if history is any indication, teen employment is likely to grow by another 300,000 to 400,000 in July,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“One of the biggest obstacles teenagers face in today’s job market is the fact that there is more competition from older job seekers, such as recent college graduates as well as retirees.  Another trend that may keep teen summer employment in the years to come is the decline of the American mall, which has long been a traditional employer of teenaged summer job seekers.  As more and more Americans flock to the internet for their shopping needs, traditional brick and mortar stores are seeing traffic decline along with the need for extra summer employees,” said Challenger.

According to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), retail sales were up 4.2 percent in 2012.  However, retail research firm ShopperTrack found that enclosed mall traffic was down 1.1 percent last year.  In its annual forecast, the NRF predicts 2013 retail sales (excluding auto, gas and restaurant) will increase by 3.4 percent.  Meanwhile, online sales are expected to grow between 9.0 percent and 12.0 percent.

“Despite fewer opportunities in traditional retail settings, there are more non-traditional settings where teens can find employment.  Over the past few years, nearly 150 trampoline centers have opened across the country.  Traditional pools are being supplemented with water slide parks.  Traditional bowling alleys are being replaced by massive bowling centers that also feature arcades, laser tag and other activities.  We are seeing more movie theaters offer full-service dining.  All of these new entertainment venues require more workers, making them the ideal target for teen job seekers,” noted Challenger.

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