Lackluster Summer for Teen Workers

Published August 11, 2021

As millions of teens contemplate returning to school this month, 451,000 picked up jobs in July, the lowest July total since 2018 when 307,000 teen jobs were added. Nearly 1.3 million teens found jobs this summer, down 41% from the 2.2 million who took jobs last summer, according to an analysis by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., using non-seasonally adjusted employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

“It has been a tumultuous summer for teen workers. With businesses reopening nationwide, it was expected to be a massive boon to teen workers. The landscape has completely changed from May when vaccinations rolled out and cases fell just as school was letting out,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Related: July 2021 teen employment press release: Fewest Teen Jobs Added Since 2015; Millions of Open Jobs Not Attracting More Teen Workers

“Obviously, the jobs are available, as we now have more positions open than workers to take them,” he added.

Indeed, the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the BLS showed 10.1 million job openings in June, a series high.

Employers added 1,298,000 jobs for teens this summer, down 40.9% from the 2,192,000 added in the summer of 2020. It is the lowest total since 2017 when 1,288,000 jobs were added in the summer months. It is also below the average of 1.4 million jobs added for teens in the summer months since 2006.

“Multiple issues could have kept teens from taking jobs this summer. Teens may have chosen other extracurricular activities that were not available during the school year or the previous summer, such as sports or camps or trips,” said Challenger.

“Other teens may have decided to take care of family members or younger siblings, especially as many parents grappled with sending unvaccinated children to daycares. Those that could afford it financially, may have simply chosen not to work this summer,” he added.

The number of employed teens is down from the peak high of 6,409,000 in July 2019 to 6,403,000 last month. 

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UPDATE: See the 2022 teen job summer forecast here.



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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