Number Of Teens Seeking Summer Jobs Expected To Drop To Lowest Level Since 1970s

Houston teens will face stiff competition from older workers for retail and restaurant jobs. But in much of the country, many summer openings are likely to go unfilled for lack of applicants.


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Human resources consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas predicts the number of teenagers applying for summer jobs will drop again this year. If the forecast proves correct, 2016 will mark the fourth-straight year of declines for teens seeking summer jobs.

"We've seen a falling participation rate (in the summer job market) among teenagers since the '70s, gradual all the way up until 2000, but since then, it's been plummeting,” says Andrew Challenger, vice president of the firm. “And during the recession, we went from about 45 percent participation rate among teenagers down to about 32 percent, and it hasn't rebounded in any way."

There are several reasons for the trend. Some teens are volunteering rather than taking paid work. Others are taking summer classes.

Many are not applying, though, because they're convinced the jobs aren't there to be had. That was the case throughout much of the country for years after the recession ended. The number of summer job openings for teens is actually rising nationwide, but there are exceptions.

"In cities particularly like Houston, where we've seen this downturn in the energy market, it's going to be a harder (summer job) market for teenagers," Challenger says.

That's because Houston teens will have to compete with older workers laid off from the energy sector or related industries.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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