Hourly pay has been on the rise in industries most likely to employ younger people, the news outlet reports
Teenagers in the US have seen their summer work options grow amid a tight labor market, higher wages and new legislation, AP has reported, citing government and industry data.
According to the report, citing recent data from the Labor Department, the US job market is currently one of the tightest since World War II. The unemployment rate stands at just 3.4%, the lowest in 54 years. There are roughly 1.6 jobs open for every person who is unemployed, a ratio that previously stayed at around 1:1. The report notes that this trend has been felt in industries that rely on teens to fill job openings during the summer months.
"We literally do not have enough people to staff the place seven days a week and into the evenings," Cory Hutchinson, general manager at Funtown Splashtown USA, an amusement park in southern Maine, was cited as saying. Mike Morrison, owner of RideAway Adventures on Cape Cod, told the news outlet he is ready to hike pay by 50 cents per hour to help keep teens through the end of summer.
AP notes that hourly pay at restaurants, retailers, and amusement parks - sectors that are more likely to employ minors - rose about 5% in April from a year ago, whereas prior to the pandemic wages for such jobs usually grew no more than 3% annually.
Analysts attribute the seasonal worker shortages in many industries needing extra staffing to the lingering effects of the pandemic. Businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and those catering to tourists, rely on immigrants for staffing during the summer months. However, immigration fell sharply following the pandemic due to government restrictions. Last year, for instance, the US issued only 285,000 summer visas, down from about 350,000 before the pandemic.
The situation in the labor market has prompted lawmakers in at least ten states to push to loosen child labor laws to let teens take jobs in industries struggling to hire staff. For instance, lawmakers in Wisconsin are backing a bill to allow 14-year-olds to serve alcohol in bars and restaurants, while the governor of Iowa last week signed a bill that will permit 16- and 17-year-olds to serve alcohol in restaurants and work longer hours. New Jersey last year raised the limit for the number of hours 16- and 17-year-olds can work per week from 40 to 50.
The report notes that, according to government data, in April nearly 34% of US citizens aged 16 to 19 had jobs, up from 30% four years ago, the last summer before the pandemic.
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