Small businesses may have a hard time finding teen workers this summer


As the summer hiring market heats up, small and seasonal businesses may find they’re missing a key demographic to fill roles – teen workers.

Outplacement firm Challenger Gray projected teens will gain 1.1 million jobs in 2023, down slightly from last year’s numbers and the lowest forecast since 2011. The group said this spring that teens are once again working at pre-pandemic levels, but cautioned many teens who are willing to take on jobs are likely already in the workforce.

The unemployment rate for teens aged 16 to 19 crept up slightly in June to 11% from the previous month, according to Friday’s June jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The labor participation rate also fell, from 42.9% to 36.3% in June 2022. This could result in fewer workers available for companies like Grotto, which rely heavily upon teens. According to Glenn Byrum, the hiring manager at Grotto, the teens are a small fraction of its 1,100 employees across the 20 Grotto locations in Delaware and Maryland. He said they are always hiring but have a good staff for the summer. He said that hiring teens is a constant process. “They seem more aware of their flexibility, the amount they will be paid and the working environment. Byrum described a mentality that he believes is common among young workers. This was born from the abundance of summer job opportunities. It keeps us on our feet as we strive to provide the best possible work environment. “

Grotto often starts teen workers above minimum wage, Byrum said, and provides incentives for some to move between locations as seasonal demand fluctuates.

Lexi Mathis, 16, was given a pay raise to work at a Grotto beach location for the summer months. “I moved here to make a bit more money tips,” Mathis said. And that was one of the best decisions ever because it’s been a big increase and subsequently they gave me a little bit of a pay raise,” Mathis said.

Hiring and labor availability has been an ongoing headache for small business owners in particular.

The dynamics of worker availability and needs have shifted in the wake of the pandemic, and owners often struggle to find skilled and unskilled workers to fill positions.

The restaurant sector is among those that has felt the sting of a lack of labor. The National Restaurant Association has said it projects restaurants will add another 500,000 jobs by the end of the year, but have seen just one job seeker for every two open jobs, enhancing competition for workers.

Makiah Grindstaff has worked at Famous Toastery in Davidson, North Carolina, for more than two years, during both the school year and summers. She has been saving money for a variety of goals and can earn up to $25 per hour, depending on her role and the day of the week. She said, “I started driving and gas is expensive. I wanted to start saving for college.” “