If you feel like those fresh-faced summer lifeguards, pizza deliverers and fast food workers are looking a little older than they used to, don’t get your glasses prescription checked just yet. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that the majority of American teens aren’t looking for a summer job, though it’s not due to a lack of work effort.
According to the BLS, just 43% of 16- to 19-year-olds were either working or looking for a job in July 2016 — down 10 percentage points from 10 years ago.
Fewer teens participating in the summer workforce doesn’t necessarily indicate laziness, though. The BLS credits the decline in part to teens prioritizing their education over finding a summer job. In July of last year, more than 40% of 16- to 19-year-olds were enrolled in school.
So why are teens opting for extra study time instead of extra cash? The BLS theorizes that more teens are enrolling in summer courses that can better prepare them for college success, while others are spending more time studying for advanced placement classes. The BLS says this could reflect heavier academic workloads and longer academic years.
One generation’s loss is another’s gain, though, as the decline in teens working summer jobs could also be linked to an influx of older workers. The Pew Research Center reported in 2016 that more Americans ages 65 and older are working “than at any time since the turn of the century.” The study concluded that 18.8% of this demographic were employed full- or part-time, equating to roughly 9 million people.
And the older generation isn’t the only group benefitting from a declining teen labor pool. In an effort to fill the gaps in its summer workforce, the state of Maine recently introduced an initiative that commutes the sentences of nonviolent prisoners so they can enter the workforce.
No matter your age, there is good news for anyone looking to make some extra cash this summer, as a CareerBuilder survey reported that 41% of employers are planning to hire seasonal workers (up 12% from last year). If you’re still on the hunt for a summer gig, check out these tips for how to answer some of the most basic (but often asked) interview questions.