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Summer jobs for teens soar to highest level in six years

June 04, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu
  • Participants speak during the recent Summer Youth Jobs & Training Expo 2012 in Denver. It's been a bustling job market for teens lately.
Participants speak during the recent Summer Youth Jobs & Training… (Matthew Staver / Bloomberg )

Looks like the mall will be stuffed with teenagers this summer – and they won’t just be shopping.

They’ll be folding clothes at Forever 21, serving up burgers in the food court and valeting cars in the parking lot as the employment market for 16- to 19-year-olds gets off to its strongest start since 2006.

Nearly 160,000 teens landed jobs in May, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. That’s more than double the 71,000 teen jobs added last May.

In 2010, employers hired on just 6,000 additional teens in May, kicking off the worst summer for youth employment since 1949.

Minority teens have had an especially tough time finding summer employment, with just 34.6% of black youth and 42.9% of Latino youth working this past July. Overall, 48.8% of people between the ages of 16 and 24 had jobs that month, according to the Labor Department.

Now, young people are earning as much as $6,746 a month through summer internships at Microsoft and other companies. Whether teens want to deal with the job hunt is another matter – the number who aren’t looking for work has steadily risen since 1994.

The rest of the job market isn’t nearly as bustling. The national unemployment rate rose for the first time in nearly a year Friday to 8.2% in May as employers created just 69,000 jobs – less than half of the expected number.

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