COVID-19

Summer has arrived. Lots of summer jobs have not.

Kristin Schwab Jun 23, 2020
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Summer jobs, like those of camp counselors, will most likely be harder to come by this year. Getty Images
COVID-19

Summer has arrived. Lots of summer jobs have not.

Kristin Schwab Jun 23, 2020
Heard on:
Summer jobs, like those of camp counselors, will most likely be harder to come by this year. Getty Images
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Rayleigh Schlauder has been going to Rockbrook Camp for Girls in Brevard, North Carolina, since she was 10 years old. She’s 22 now, and this summer would have been her seventh as a counselor. But all the arts and crafts, kayaking and campfire songs will have to wait. Camp is canceled because of COVID-19.

Schlauder is going into her senior year at Auburn University in Alabama, where she’s studying English literature. For three months of work as a camp counselor she makes $3,300, which she usually uses to pay for books. “Which doesn’t go very far because textbooks are expensive,” she said.

And it won’t just be money she’ll miss out on this summer. There’s also experience. Schlauder wants to be a teacher, and camp helps her build leadership skills. “It gives me the opportunity to create bonds with these campers,” she said. “A lot of times these girls are looking for role models.”

Summer is coming without a summer job for a lot of young workers. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, 56% of people ages 16 to 24 had jobs during last summer’s employment peak in July. And though the government doesn’t make employment projections, experts say those numbers will likely dip this year.

This year is going to be tough on people who work in travel, tourism and restaurants, which hire a lot of seasonal workers. “What we’ll actually see is not the season not coming, but it coming in such a partial way that there’s a lot of job destruction,” said Betsey Stevenson, a professor of economics at the University of Michigan.

That destruction will reach beyond young people to workers of all ages who may take on second jobs in the summer to earn extra cash. For a lot of businesses in coastal vacation towns, summer isn’t just the season — it’s the only season. Tour operators, bike rentals and boardwalk shops typically close for winter.

“This is going to be a rough year financially. There’s no ands, ifs or buts,” said Mark Novota, managing partner at Wequassett Resort in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The resort usually brings in around 500 employees to work as housekeepers, servers and groundskeepers. Nearly all of them are seasonal and come back year after year. This summer he thinks he’ll have to cut hiring in half because bookings are way down. “We’re going to onboard as demand grows,” he said. “But we don’t exactly know what that demand will be.”

A lot of businesses, like sports franchises, don’t know if there will be any demand at all. Sarah El-khalily was supposed to work for the Dodgers Foundation this summer, but with Major League Baseball on hold, she’s out of a job. “I’ve been working every summer since I was 17, so it’s definitely a really tough situation,” said El-khalily, who’s 20 years old and will be a senior at the University of California, Santa Cruz, this fall.

El-khalily looked everywhere for work but didn’t have any luck. Then she got an internship with an education nonprofit. She’ll work fewer hours and won’t make as much as she would have if the Dodgers were playing ball. But she hopes the internship will help her when she applies to grad school in the fall.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

How long will it be until the economy is back to normal?

It feels like things are getting better, more and more people getting vaccinated, more businesses opening, but we’re not entirely out of the woods. To illustrate: two recent pieces of news from the Centers for Disease Control. Item 1: The CDC is extending its tenant eviction moratorium to June 30. Item 2: The cruise industry didn’t get what it wanted — restrictions on sailing from U.S. ports will stay in place until November. Very different issues with different stakes, but both point to the fact that the CDC thinks we still have a ways to go before the pandemic is over, according to Dr. Philip Landrigan, who used to work at the CDC and now teaches at Boston College.

How are those COVID relief payments affecting consumers?

Payments started going out within days of President Joe Biden signing the American Rescue Plan, and that’s been a big shot in the arm for consumers, said John Leer at Morning Consult, which polls Americans every day. “Consumer confidence is really on a tear. They are growing more confident at a faster rate than they have following the prior two stimulus packages.” Leer said this time around the checks are bigger and they’re getting out faster. Now, rising confidence is likely to spark more consumer spending. But Lisa Rowan at Forbes Advisor said it’s not clear how much or how fast.

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