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Summer teen employment trends, Central Texas rebound

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Posted at 10:21 PM, Jul 16, 2021

Last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, teen employment fell drastically as small businesses struggled to pay the bills let alone retain employees.

Early employment plays an important role in the development of young adults and shows a positive influence on later in life attainment and well-being, according to a study on recent employment trends.

According to the Pew Research Center, less than a third of teens had a paying job last summer. . . whereas in 2000 more than half of teens worked for at last part of their summer.

But the pandemic isn't the only cause for lower teen employment.

One study shows there has been an overall decline in youth employment over the years since the Great Recession, and that students are more likely to work less than 20 hours in positions that are less demanding such as lawn work or babysitting, rather than office/clerical work; this may be in part to older workers taking up these jobs.

More students also enrolled in summer classes, volunteer work, and un-paid internships over the summer instead of being employed. So changes in the labor market and in education are factors, other than the COVID-19 pandemic, that point to what summer teen employment may look like this year.

What types of jobs are teens taking on?

According to the Pew Research Center, more than a third of teenagers, 35.1 percent, worked in the food/ hospitality industry last year, almost 25 percent in retail, 7 percent in construction and manufacturing, and 6.7 percent in arts, entertainment and recreation (including fairs, local pools, community events) which is further proven by recent reports of national life guard shortages.

Wages in the Waco and Killeen areas for those industries are shown below:

Will Central Texas businesses be hiring?

Unemployment rates in Waco have fallen from 8.1 percent in 2020 to now 5.4 percent, in Killeen from 9.9 percent to 5.8 percent, in McLennan County 9.0 to now 5.1 percent, Bell County 10.1 percent to now 5.9 percent, Falls County 8.1 percent to now 5.4 percent; and significantly in other areas of Central Texas as well.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas forecasts that Texas job growth is set to increase by 5.6 percent in 2021.

Additionally, many cities are offering small business recovery funds to hire/ retain workers.

The Pew Research Center reports that 5.3 million teens, or 32.4 percent of 16 to 19-year-olds, were employed in May 2021 marking the highest May employment figures for teens since 2008.

So, Central Texas teens may have the space they need to return to summer employment.