Higher employment rate for teens fills labor gaps

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CLEVELAND – There is an upheaval happening in the job market. For the first time since 2008, a third of American teenagers are employed during the summer.

Many of them are like Grace Kelley, who works at Honey Hut Ice Cream.

“I’ve worked here since I was 15,” she said. Kelley keeps coming back because she loves having a job she can do and “ice cream is my favorite food.”

Kelley is not alone.

“We get a lot of high school kids of course,” said Bruce Page, owner of Honey Hut Ice Cream.

Many teenagers and 20 year olds find employment in the restaurant industry. Since the lifting of the pandemic closures, the restoration has struggled to rebound. Conversations about better pay don’t always trickle down to a summer job seeker.

“Minimum wage in Ohio is about $9 an hour and they might be tipped about $2 an hour, so that’s not bad for a summer job,” he said. said Page.

In May of this year, there were more than a million vacancies across the country – jobs filled by Kelley and other ice cream shop workers.

“Otherwise, we might cut a day short,” Page said. “We would not be open on Mondays for example.”

Ice cream may seem like a seasonal industry, but Page said once school starts, its workforce dwindles, which doesn’t help in the hot late summer months. He tries to be flexible with employees who still want to work and go to school.

“(We) let them have their days off,” he said. “Don’t overload them.”

But for many industries, workers who have returned for the summer may not be replaced once school resumes.

Employment numbers are rising in the United States. Conversely, so is unemployment. The national figure is 5.9%.

Kelley said the growing number of workers his age speaks volumes about his generation.

“People my age are some of the hardest working people I know,” she said.

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