Fewer teens working this summer compared to 2012

Last year’s teen job gains were the strongest since 2007, when employers hired 1.64 million. 

The season started off strong, with 215,000 hires of 16- to 19-year-olds in May, the best showing since 2006.

“Traditional summer employment venues for teens, such as movie theaters, pools, camps and amusement parks, are likely to have completed the bulk of their hiring in May, only hiring additional workers if it was necessary to replace someone who left or was dismissed,” said John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“Teenagers also faced more competition from older, more experienced job seekers, such as recent college graduates and recent retirees," he said.

The hiring pace slowed down in June, compared against the same month last year, falling to 779,000 — a drop of 9.2 percent — from 858,000, which was the highest June figure in five years.  

Last month, teen hires increased by 361,000, which is 5.5 percent lower than July a year ago. 

All told, more than 5.5 million teens were employed at the end of July, up 6 percent over a near historic low in 2011 but still well below the pre-recession peak of nearly 7.5 million in July 2006.

The largest number of teenagers working at one time was in July 1978, when more than 10 million 16- to 19-year-olds were employed. 

Of the nearly 16.8 million 16- to 19-year-olds in the country, only 7.3 million, or 43 percent, have a job or are seeking one, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of the 9.5 million remaining teenagers who are not considered part of the labor force, only 1.3 million want a job.  

Even fewer (482,000) actually searched for employment over the past 12 months or since the end of their last job. 

“In all, there are nearly 8.3 million teenagers who simply do not want a job or, at least, are making no concerted effort to find a job," Challenger said.  

"This represents a major shift in teen employment trends."

In 1980, nearly 71 percent of teenagers were employed or looking for employment in July.

“These figures do not necessarily mean that all of these non-working teens are sitting around idle," he said.  

Challenger said many might be earning money through a variety of odd jobs, such as lawn mowing and babysitting, while others may be volunteering or working without pay for a family business. 

Some could be taking summer classes or participating in organized sports that don’t allow enough time for summer jobs.  

"Today’s teenagers have far more options than previous generations and jobs at the local mall or in a fast-food restaurant are perhaps being shunned,” he said.