Published April 23, 2024

The labor market continues to hold steady except for certain industries where layoffs are occurring, such as Technology and Energy. For the most part, jobs that traditionally attract teen workers are available. The teen participation rate of 36.7% is the highest in March since 2008, when 37.1% of teens were considered in the labor market, according to non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Meanwhile, the highest number of teens are currently working in March since 2008. It remains to be seen whether this summer will bring more job opportunities for teens than in 2023, or if high labor costs will deter employers from hiring.

Teen Employment Surge in 2024

Outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. predicts teens will gain 1.3 million jobs in May, June, and July 2024, due to consumer demand and teen desire to work this year. This is larger than the 1.1 million job estimate the firm issued last April, and the 1,034,000 jobs employers actually added for teens during the summer months of 2023. This would be the highest number of summer jobs added since 2020, when teens took 2,192,000 new positions in the summer months.

“Inflation is not only hitting employers’ labor costs. It’s also hitting teens’ pockets, as well as those of their families,” said Andrew Challenger, labor and workplace expert and Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“Amusement parks, pools, restaurants, libraries, summer camps, and stores most certainly have employment needs and would be great places for teens to gain valuable skills,” he added. In March, 5,595,000 workers aged 16 to 19 were employed, according to non-seasonally adjusted data from the BLS. That’s the highest March total since 2007, when 5,611,000 teens were employed. It is up 2% from the 5,480,000 teens employed in the same month the previous year.

Teen Employment Statistics: A Look Back and a Look Ahead

Last summer, employers added 1,035,000 jobs, the lowest number of new teen jobs since 2010, when 960,000 jobs were added in the summer for teens.

“Other activities compete for teens’ time and attention, which explains why the participation rate has dropped so dramatically from the 1970s through the 1990s, when it hovered over
50%, ” said Challenger.

“Teens have school and family obligations. Many take on extra academic or sports-related endeavors during the summer months. Still more may take on odd jobs or gig work, which is difficult to track in labor data, ” he added.

While the need and demand for teen workers exist, employers are slower to hire than they have been in recent years. The average duration of unemployment in March 2024 was 22.3 weeks, according to the BLS, up from 20.1 weeks during the same month last year. Teens also have other options, which may mean employers will add number closer to that of other post-pandemic summers.

Since 2.2 million jobs were added in the summer of 2020, new teen jobs have declined for three consecutive summers.

“Some of the declines in teen jobs immediately post-2020 were due to pandemic concerns. Those have largely receded, and teens may be more likely to apply and accept the many openings available to them,” said Challenger.

“High inflation is driving up labor costs, which may mean employers raise prices without adding workers. That said, with a solid economy and high consumer demand, teens have opportunities. And considering the higher participation rate this Spring, teens appear to want to work as well,” he added.

Reasons Teens Want Jobs This Summer

  • Financial Needs: Many teens work to support themselves or contribute to family finances.
  • Skill Development: Jobs can provide critical skills and experiences valuable in future careers.
  • Independence: Working helps teens gain independence and confidence.

Reasons Teens May Avoid Typical Employment:

  • Academic Pressure: Some teens prioritize their studies over jobs, especially if they are preparing for college.
  • Extracurricular Commitments: Sports, arts, and other activities can take significant time, competing with work.
  • Lack of Interest: Some teens may lack motivation to work, especially if they have other sources of financial support.

Tips for Teen Job Seekers

Start Now: For teens seeking summer employment, June is traditionally the most popular month for teen hiring. However, teens who want to find work for the summer would be wise to start applying before school ends, when competition for these jobs becomes fiercer.

Create and connect to your network: Many teens may not think they have a network, but that could not be further from the truth. Teens should reach out to their friends, parents, instructors – both current and past, coaches, and friends’ parents to inquire about potential opportunities. They should also seek out the managers of places they frequent to see if they are hiring.

Create a resume, cover letter, and email template to send employers: Teens should include extra-curricular activities, volunteer experience, or any other information that would show an employer you are able to work as part of a team, are a self-starter, or can manage a project. Teens should also explore generative AI to help facilitate these written communications to help ensure professionalism.

Look in unexpected places: While summer camps, retail establishments, theme parks and movie theaters come to mind for teens, many offices need administrative staff who can organize files, take calls, or even manage social media profiles. Teens can also investigate summer paid internships in industries they find appealing or for which they are passionate. These are great avenues for teens to gain real work experience.

Practice common interview questions: Be ready to talk about your strengths, experiences, and why you are interested in the job. Ask parents, teachers, or coaches for feedback on how you present yourself and answer certain questions.

Make and leave a good impression: Dress professionally and arrive on time for interviews. Be polite and respectful to everyone you interact with during the interview process. Often, the entire team will discuss a candidacy to make sure the person is a good fit for the organization.

Learn from rejections: If you do face rejections, view them as learning opportunities. Ask for feedback on why you weren’t selected and use that feedback to improve your resume, interview skills, or qualifications for future job applications.

Stay professional online: Many employers may check your social media presence during the hiring process. Review and clean up your social media profiles to ensure they reflect a positive and professional image.

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Contact Colleen Madden Blumenfeld for more data or to set up an interview with SVP Andy Challenger.

Contact Challenger for Media Inquiries


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