From Pocket, Money to Power: Teen Workers Commanding Better Pay This Summer

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Teen Workers

Teens have been playing a vital role in filling out summertime stuff at restaurants, amusement parks, camps, and ice cream stands.

However, now we should thank the tightest labour markets in decades, they have even more influence, with an array of jobs to choose from for better wages.

To ease the labor crunch, some states are stepping in to roll back restrictions to allow the teen to work for more hours, and in some cases in more hazardous tasks.

According to some Economists, there are other ways to expand the workforce without pressurizing more on the kid-including by allowing more legal immigration.

Seeking TEEN workers:

At Funtown Splashtown USA, an amusement park in Southern Maine, Teen workers play a typical role in keeping the attractions open which is not so much easier as it was to be.

General Manager Cory Hutchinson anticipates hiring about 350 Teen workers this summer including many local High Schoolers, compared with more than 500 in the past summers.

“We do not have enough people to staff the place seven days a week and into the evenings,” he said. This summer, Funtown Splashtown will only be open six days a week and it will close at 6 p.m., instead of 9 p.m.

In April, Approximately 34% Americans of ages 16 to 19 had jobs, according to government data. It compares with 30% four years ago, which was the last pre-pandemic summer.

More jobs are available for Teen Workers who want to do the task. According to Labor Department, there are roughly 1.6 jobs available for one unemployed Teen. In normal times the ratio is 1:1.

At RideAway Adventures at Cape Cod which offers kayak, paddleboat, and bike rental on tours, finding enough teen workers had not been a challenge for them. The Owner Mike Morison chalks it up to the fact that RideAway is a desirable place to work if compared with the other places.

Morrison said, “They’re not washing dishes and they go to be outside and active”. Additionally, while he typically starts off the hiring of new teen workers at $ 15 an hour, the state’s minimum wage, he will raise the pay of the hardworking workers by as much as 50 cents per hour toward the end of July.

This strategy will be helpful for him to keep the workers along for the summer.

Choosier Teens:

Maxen Lucas, a graduating senior at Lincoln Academy in Maine, got his first job at 15 as a summer camp dishwasher, before that, he was a stint as a grocery bagger before getting into landscaping.

He stated that young workers can be choosier now. “After COVID settled down, everyone was being paid more,” stated the 18-year-old from Nobleboro. He will head off to Maine Maritime Academy this fall.

However, hourly pay raised about 5% in April from a year ago at retailers, restaurants, and amusement parks, the industries likely to hire teens. During the pre-pandemic, payment in these industries typically rose no more than 3% annually.

Addison Beer, age 17, will work this summer at the Virginia G. Piper branch of the Boys & Girls Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. There she feels a strong bond with colleagues and the kids she helps out.

Because of a scheduling struggle, she temporarily took a job at Zinburger, a restaurant that was anxious for workers. “They just asked me a few questions and were like, ‘Oh, you’re hired!’” she stated. For many teen workers, the point of a summer job doesn’t have to be about finding the maximum pay available.

“Having a job is just so I can sustain myself, be more independent, not rely on my parents too much,” stated Christopher Au, 19 years old.  He has been dishing out ice cream at a J.P. Licks in Boston for the past few months.

Jack Gervais, 18, of Cumberland, Maine, pursuing an internship shooting photography at an arts venue and will make roughly the minimum wage of $13.80 an hour while gaining knowledge, and skills that relate to his career goals. But he said many kids he knows are seeking, and commanding for higher paying jobs.

Immigration is a factor:

According to Economists allowing more legal immigration is the key solution to the shortage of workforce. Many resort towns rely on immigrants with summer visas to staff businesses such as ice cream stands, restaurants, hotels, and tourist sites.

But during the Covid outbreak immigration fell sharply as the federal government tightened restrictions. Nearly 285,000 summer visas were issued during the 2022 summer and that was approximately 350,000 pre-pandemic summer visas.

The Federal Reserve in March estimated that the overall drop in immigration has cost the USA nearly one million workers, compared with pre-pandemic statistics. Immigration is rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, but the effects are still being felt.

Expanding Teen hours:

In 2022, New Jersey passed a law allowing 16 and 17 years old to work up to 50 hours per week during the summer. Because during the summer, the state’s shore economy swells with tourists. The pre-pandemic hours were 40 hours per week.

The measure has gained praise from the parents. Sally Rutherford, 56, of North Wildwood, New Jersey, stated that her 17-year-old son, Billy, was enthusiastic about the change.

With the money he earns working as a game operator at a Jersey Shore amusement park, he will be able to pay for a car. She also added, “It makes him much more independent and responsible”.

Other states are also considering a variety of proposals to expand teens’ role in the workplace. In Wisconsin, lawmakers are supporting a proposal to allow 14-year-olds to serve alcohol in bars and restaurants.

In Iowa, the governor signed a bill into law Friday that will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to serve alcohol in restaurants, and to expand the hours minor teen workers can work.

Child welfare advocates concern the measures represent a coordinated push to scale back hard-won protections for minors.

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