Employers court growing teen workforce

Unemployment

NEW YORK, NY (CBS NEWSPATH) – Part-time job postings are topping 2019’s pre-pandemic numbers. Employers struggling to fill jobs are looking to younger workers and, in some cases, offering more money to get them on the payroll.

Ethan Bentz, 19, earns his dough at The Bagel Cafe in Las Vegas. “I expected to be, you know, an average first job pay, but that’s exceeded my expectations a little bit,” Bentz says.

Bentz is part of the growing teenage workforce. Last month, the share of 16-to-19-year-olds holding jobs rose to 33.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the highest rate since 2008.

Bentz’s boss, Savvas Andrews, is looking for more employees just like him. “Anybody that walks in here, like I ask my customers, ‘Do you have a teenager, a son or a daughter, that want to work? I have jobs!'”

Employers, especially in leisure and hospitality, are struggling to fill jobs that had been wiped out during the pandemic. Jersey Shore hotel owner Christina Ranuro owns The White Sands Oceanfront Resort and Spa in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. Ranuro increased the starting wage she offers from $12 dollars an hour to $15 dollars an hour. “We’re really, really shorthanded,” she says.

Economists say hiring challenges include parents struggling with childcare, foreign students unable to get work visas, and entry-level seasonal work not paying as well as unemployment benefits. “There’s still this expanded unemployment benefit that’s keeping some workers from coming back into the labor force, filling the jobs where there are openings,” says Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist with Mizuho Securities USA.

One of those openings went to 16-year-old Sophia Shannon. “It’s my first job ever, actually,” she says. Shannon landed a job at a Michael’s store in Lexington, Kentucky, and expects more of her peers will punch in, too. “We all are like ‘We’re out of COVID and we’re old enough to work now, maybe we should do that,” Shannon says.

Teens across the country are finding a wealth of job opportunities that could make this a bankable summer. And it’s a good time for parents’ helpers, too. As more people return to the office, the demand for nannies and babysitters is soaring.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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