As schools across the nation begin preparing students for final exams, employers are preparing for their entry into the workforce. According to one outlook, job opportunities could increase around 5% this year and the teen participation rate could rise as well.
In 2018, just 35% of teens aged 16- to 19-years old participated in the labor market, according to global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc, in its annual outlook.
Last summer saw 1,388,000 jobs gained by teens, roughly 8% higher than the 1,288,000 jobs gained by teenagers in the summer of 2017. This was the highest number of teen jobs gained since 2012, when 1,397,000 jobs were added.
“Teens have not participated in the job market at the same rate they did since their peak work years in the 1970s. In fact, teen participation has dropped since the recovery in 2009, when 37.5% of teens were in the labor force,” says Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.—in a press release announcing the findings.
While the teen participation rate hovers near 35%, the sheer number of opportunities, as well as student desire to gain employment experience, may bring more teens back into the labor force.
“Employers value work experience, in some cases, more than education. The summer job for teens is incredibly valuable in showing future employers they are able to work in a professional setting,” says Challenger.
While the traditional retail job may be harder to get for many teens, as thousands of brick-and-mortar store closures have occurred over the last few years, the stronger-than-expected March jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated a 33% increase in opportunities in the leisure and hospitality industry.
“Companies in almost all sectors are struggling to find talent. While adults took the place of many teens during the recession and recovery years, we’re now seeing those opportunities going back to teen workers,” says Challenger.
Teen Unemployment Drops
The March jobs report also showed the unemployment rate for teen workers dropped 0.6% from last March to 12.8%.
In addition to the desire to gain work experience in summer jobs, more teens may choose to work between high school and college as they decide what field they want to pursue. The so-called “gap year” is becoming increasingly popular, especially with the high cost of post-secondary education.
In fact, according to the American Gap Association, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 teens take a gap year after high school, and that number was an increase of 20% from 2015. President Barack Obama’s daughter Malia brought attention to the growing trend with her decision to suspend college for a year in 2017.
Most Popular Month for Teen Hiring
“For teens seeking summer employment, June is traditionally the most popular month for teen hiring, with 951,000 teens finding employment last year. However, teens who want to find work for the summer would be wise to start readying their resumes and applications now,” says Challenger.
For employers looking to attract the teen demographic ahead of the summer hiring months, recruiters would be wise to start their outreach efforts now. And remember, when recruiting teen talent, be on the lookout for extra-curricular activities and volunteer opportunities—on the applicant’s résumé—to showcase the candidate’s “experience.” Obviously teenage jobseekers won’t have 5 years of experience when they’re still in their junior year of high school.