June 29, 2022

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Teen summer workers are winning higher pay and more flexibility this year

2 min read

When Jennifer Sutton opened her small business, Guest Haus Juicery, in September 2021, she turned to teenage workers to fill gaps in the hiring market.

Sutton initially thought her two teen employees would staff the register at her Park City, Utah-based cafe, but a tight labor environment forced Sutton to think differently about how she could best utilize the hands.

“They’ve proven to be incredible workers. They’ve jumped in, not only checking our customers out in front of the house, but they help out in the kitchen,” Sutton said. “They are eager to learn and do new things.”

The summer hiring season has long been bolstered by teenage workers looking to earn extra income during their downtime from school and extracurricular activities. But the typical teen hiring spree has yet to kick in for 2022 as the pandemic lingers, and young workers are finding they have more leverage to ask for higher pay, new opportunities and more flexibility around vacations or sports.

“We foster a pretty social, high-vibe environment here that’s appealing to them. However, it does not mean that there’s an option to pay them less or dump more hours on to them,” Sutton said. “They’re looking for work, but they’re making asks and know what they’re looking for. They want flexibility. They want to be able to take summer vacations, and they know they can get competitive pay.”

Sutton pays her younger workers, aged 15 to 17, between $12 and $14 an hour, plus tips — nearly double Utah’s minimum wage. She’s looking to hire three more teens this summer, as tourism picks up.

Roughly 153,000 teens, aged 16 to 19, secured jobs in May, according to an analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That’s 30% below the 219,000 jobs added in the same month last year and the lowest teen hiring level for the month of May since 2018.

The lag in summer teen hiring so far mirrors a slowdown from summer 2021, when 41% fewer…

2022-06-16 15:26:28

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