Teen hiring has been slow to rebound as the economy recovers, but things could be improving. The first half of 2012 brought job growth in accommodation and food services, the sector that hires the most teens during the summer. How much of that job growth is being filled by teens will not be known until the numbers from this summer are available next year, so it will be a while before we know if teen hiring is back from its three-year vacation.
It's generally harder for teenagers to land a job than it is for older workers. Some jobs are off-limits to teens because of minimum age or educational requirements. Balancing typical teen activities such as school, sports, and hanging out makes it difficult for many teens to find time to work. Add transportation challenges to that and it's a wonder that teens are able to get hired at all.
Although the odds of finding a job seem stacked against them, teenagers are able to find summer work. Oregon employers hired roughly 27,700 new workers ages 14 to 18 in July, August, or September of 2011. The summer is always the busiest time of year for teen hiring, but it slowed during the recession and did not recover in 2011. Hiring in this age group during the summers of 2009, 2010 and 2011 was down 43 percent from summer 2007 (Graph 1). To a large extent, teen hiring is driven by economic conditions, but there is also a general downward trend in teen hiring and teens working during the summer. Teenagers are now 2 percent of Oregon's summer workforce, one-half the presence of a decade ago.
This measure of teenage new hires specifically counts those who started working in the third quarter for an employer they had not worked for within the last year. That includes summer seasonal workers and year-round workers who switched employers during the third quarter, but does not include workers who started their summer job in June or earlier.
The detailed list of industries with the most teenage new hires is topped by food services and drinking places. About one out of five newly hired teens worked in food services, which had almost 5,400 new hires in the third quarter of 2011 (Graph 2).
The industries hiring the most teens in the summer did not change much during the recession. New hire levels in 2011 were much lower than 2007 levels in many of the top industries for teens. Hiring was down across the service industries. In third quarter 2011, food services and drinking places hired less than one-half the workers they did in the same period of 2007. Similar trends were seen at food and beverage stores. Administrative and support services, which largely consists of temporary help services, also cut back on teen hiring.
Summer teen hiring for crop production and in support activities for agriculture and forestry rebounded and surpassed pre-recession levels. These industries largely escaped the employment losses felt by the rest of the economy during the recession.
Information about Oregon workers by age group is from Local Employment Dynamics (LED) data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. To explore and use the data available from LED, visit http://lehd.did.census.gov/led.