July Job Blowout: Teens Land 492K Jobs in July, 1.4M This Summer

With strong hiring in June and July, the number of teenagers finding summer employment in 2016 increased by more than 15 percent to its highest level since 2013, according to an analysis of government data by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Employment among teens increased by 1,339,000 between May and July. That was 15.4 percent more than a year ago, when 1,160,000 16- to 19-year-olds were added to the employment rolls.

The summer total was helped by heavier-than-usual teen employment gains in July. A total of 492,000 teenagers found jobs in July, according to non-seasonally adjusted data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last Friday. The July teen job gains were 33 percent higher than last year’s 369,000. Last month’s gains were 25 percent higher than the 392,900 July job gains averaged over the previous 10 years.

The strong summer hiring brought total employment among 16- to 19-year-olds to 6,040,000, which is the highest number of employed teens since August 2008, when 6,142,000 teenagers were working.

“This year saw the strongest teen employment market since 2013, when 1,355,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 19 found jobs. We may be seeing a turnaround in the teen job market as more and more cities approach full employment,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“When the unemployment rate drops down into the 3-percent to 4-percent range, older and more experienced workers who might have been settling for employment in retail and food service are able to move into higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs. This leaves opportunities for younger job seekers. The biggest challenge may be attracting teen job seekers,” said Challenger.

Teen employment has been declining since the 1970s. At its peak, in July 1978, more than 10 million teenagers were employed. Much of the decline appears to be by choice, as a growing number of teenagers participate in summer sports and education programs, volunteer, travel or work in jobs that fall below the standard employment measures.

“Employers may have to entice teens back into the traditional workforce with higher pay, more challenging work or, perhaps, the promise of tuition assistance,” suggested Challenger.
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However, even with the promise of tuition assistance, it may be an uphill battle when it comes to bringing teens back into the fold. According to unpublished, non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 9.5 million 16- to 19-year-olds not in the labor force last month, more than 8.5 million, or roughly 90 percent, indicated that they do not want a job.