Employers find it harder to find workers for summer jobs

It costs Julian Avalos, owner of Two Crepes in Union City, a bit more, but there’s not much else he can do.

It closed one of its locations during the pandemic and now pays an extra $2 an hour to attract employees. That means teens can make $14 an hour with no experience, Avalos said.

“What we’re paying has certainly increased the likelihood of more people applying and wanting to stay longer,” he said, noting that he has two teenage employees and plans to hire more if needed.

Likewise, Mary Jane Riva, CEO of Pizza Factory, has a message of caution for her customers this summer: be prepared to wait longer for your Hawaiian pie or calzone.

With about 12 employees per store, the Pizza Factory’s 100 West Coast locations are barely half-staffed, just when many other Americans are venturing into chain restaurants like its own.

“Days of 15-minute orders,” Riva said, “may not be happening anymore.”

Talk to other employers in America’s vast hospitality industry — hotels, restaurants, public pools, ice cream parlors, U-pick strawberry farms — and you’ll hear a similar complaint. They cannot fill many of their summer jobs because the number of vacancies far exceeds the number of people willing and able to fill them, even with higher salaries.

Help may be coming: School is out for the summer, pushing millions of high school and college students away for the next three months. Riva, for its part, hopes to receive more applications from students

look for money to spend the summer.

Teenagers are in an exceptionally dominant position – at least those of them who want jobs. Researchers from the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University predicted in a report last month

that on average 33% of young people aged 16 to 19 will be employed each month from June to August this year, the highest rate since 34% in the summer of 2007.

Among them is Samuel Castillo, a 19-year-old four-year veteran of Miami’s Summer Jobs Connect program who has already built an impressive resume. In a former job with the program, he worked in a

legislative office, registration of voter complaints. His first summer, he saved $900 to buy parts to build his own computer.

Now he’s studying computer engineering technology in college and working the Jobs Connect program again this summer, earning $15 an hour teaching other students how to manage money.

“The purpose of the job is to pay my bills,” he said. “School costs money. Books cost money.

Some Hudson County businesses attract and employ teenagers every summer and expect to do so again this year. Bayonne’s old-school Magic Fountain ice cream shop is one such place, the owner said, and Skyway Golf Course is the same.

Neither had staffing issues or had to adjust salaries, managers said. In fact, Skyway saw more applicants than usual, said general manager Steve Mills.

“You work outdoors, in good weather and it’s not too stressful,” Mills said. “You’re probably going to see a higher (application) rate there than in a seated office or laborer position, even food or drink.”

Connecticut College student Lara Beckius said she went from the stress of finding a summer job to the stress of choosing from multiple offers. Ultimately, Beckius settled on an internship at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine.

“It was a little crazy,” said Beckius, a 19-year-old from Avon, Connecticut. “It went from, ‘Am I going to have anything this summer?’ to have four opportunities and, ‘Which one will I take?’ “

This year, for the first time in a few years, employers could get more help from abroad. After restricting immigration as a precaution against COVID-19, government begins to relax: US

Citizenship and Immigration Services increased the limit on H-2B temporary work permits — used for seasonal work — by 35,000 visas.

Cape Resorts, which operates several boutique hotels, cottages and restaurants in Cape May and elsewhere in New Jersey and New York, will employ about 120 international students this summer with J-1 visas, work permits that also serve as a student program. ‘cultural exchange. .

“Finding staff willing to fill hospitality positions remains a challenge,” said Cindy D’Aoust, company executive. “But it’s great to see the return of our international students as well as students returning for the summer season.”

Yet the employment level of today’s teenagers is nowhere near what it used to be. In August 1978, 50% of American teenagers were working. Around 2000, teen employment entered a decade-long slump. In June 2010, during the extremely slow recovery from the Great Recession of 2007-2009, teen employment bottomed out at 25% before slowly recovering as the economy recovered.

It was more than the economic slump that kept teenagers from working. Longer-term economic forces and changing personal choices have also contributed. The U.S. economy today offers fewer low-skilled entry-level jobs — job-ready for teens — than it did in the 1970s and 1980s.

Many of those remaining jobs, from supermarket clerks to fast-food hamburger turners, are increasingly likely to be filled by older workers, many of whom are immigrants.

But COVID and its economic damage changed everything. At first, the economy collapsed as businesses closed and consumers hunkered down at home. Soon, sweeping federal aid and ultra-low interest rates sparked a rapid and unexpected recovery. Companies rushed to recall employees they had laid off and find new ones to cope with the upsurge in customer orders.

The US unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, just above a half-century low. This week the government announced that employers posted 11.4 job vacancies in April, up from a record 11.9 million in March, but still extraordinarily high.

On average, there are now about two jobs available for every unemployed American.

As a result, teenagers are much more in demand. And the pay they’re being offered — $15 or $16 an hour for entry-level work — is bringing some back into the job market. Teenage employment has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels, even if the overall labor market still hasn’t.

Lauren Gonzalez, who operates two hostels with her sister — The Local in New York and Lolo Pass in Portland, Oregon — is looking for a barista, bartender, events manager and sales manager. She recently raised the salaries of cleaners and receptionists, jobs she previously had little trouble filling.

“I definitely put my hands up in the air sometimes and say, ‘Where’s everybody?’ “

Jersey Journal editor Teri West contributed to this report.