Summer Youth Hiring Trends in the South Coast

by Guy Tauer

June 17, 2019

Back in the day, you could always count on hearing someone’s car stereo blasting Alice Cooper’s classic tune “School’s Out for Summer” through the parking lot at the local high school about this time of year. Far removed from those glory days that Bruce Springsteen waxes nostalgically about in one of his classic tunes, I don’t know what most of the current rituals are to mark the usual end of the school year. One tradition that has endured since those days of yore is youth being hired, either for just the summer season or for the first time as new entrants into the labor market, when school’s out for summer.

The economy has been on a more solid footing since slowly recovering from the Great Recession. Unemployment rates have been at or near historic lows throughout the state in the last two years. The rising employment tide has also lifted youth employment.
Summer peak youth employment, defined in this analysis as workers age 14 to 21, plunged sharply during the past recession. Summer youth employment reached its most recent peak in third quarter 2007 when there were 2,568 youth employed at the South Coast. Total summer employment fell sharply down to 1,967 by third quarter 2012, a 34 percent reduction. Since that low ebb in 2012, peak third quarter total employment for youth rose by about 300 jobs, gaining 17.7 percent. In the third quarter of 2018, 7 percent of South Coast workers were age 14 to 21, just slightly higher than the share of youth workers in Oregon, which was 6.6 percent. Back in the summer of 2000, about 10 percent of South Coast and Oregon workers were age 14 to 21.

Looking at the change in employment for different age groups from the low point during the past recession, from third quarter 2012 to third quarter 2018, shows a large rise in workers ages 14 to 18, up 41.7 percent over that time. Workers ages 19 to 21 gained about 100, or up 8.3 percent. The percent change for all age groups over that time was 7.3 percent on Oregon’s South Coast. The only age group to have fewer workers in the third quarter of 2018 than in the third quarter of 2012 were those age 45 to 54, down by 485 workers, or 7.9 percent. The number of workers 65 and older had the second fastest growth, up by 35.9 percent.

Compared with the pre-recession peak, third quarter 2007 employment, we find that across all age groups, employment is down by 1,421 as of the third quarter of 2018, still 4.8 percent below its recent peak. Youth employment is much lower than the prior third quarter peak, down by about 600 jobs, a 23.4 percent decline from the third quarter of 2007 to the third quarter of 2018.

Industries Hiring Youth

The tourism-dependent leisure and hospitality sector hires the greatest number of younger workers. Looking at total employment by age doesn’t capture the churn in the labor market, so using the Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics data gives us a clearer picture of actual hiring by industry. Think of a reservoir analogy. Total employment is like the level of water in a reservoir – the level is a function of what is pouring in at the top and what is running out the bottom through the dam. The hires and separations data from the Census Bureau measures the flow, with new hires like water coming into the top of the lake and separations being the water pouring out the bottom of the reservoir. In this look at South Coast summer, or third quarter, employment, we’ll just look at new hires by industry. This might be of interest to younger workers who may be entering the job market for the first time once they have graduated from high school, or youth who may be interested in landing a summer job.

For youth workers ages 14 to 18, by far the greatest number of hires in the summer of 2018 was in the food services and drinking places industry, with nearly three times as many hires as the second highest new hire industry, accommodations. There were almost 200 new hires in food service and drinking places, and nearly 60 new hires in the accommodation industry. Food and beverage stores, and administrative and support services both had about 40 new hires in the summer of 2018 for workers age 14 to 18.
The 19 to 21 year old cohort has a similar pattern in the industries hiring the most new workers during the summer of 2018, with food services and drinking places well ahead of the other industries hiring youth workers. Looking at this group of young adults who were hired, we see a few more in the construction, manufacturing and natural resource-based industries. As those jobs are inherently more difficult for those under 18, often due to insurance regulations or nature of the job factors that preclude many businesses from offering those positions to workers not yet of legal adult age.
So now that there are no more pencils, no more rulers, as the Schools’ Out for Summer lyrics go, get out there and land your first job or your seasonal summer job and start saving for your retirement. It will get there before you know it.


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