Teens filled the worker gap this summer, but what happens when back-to-school time arrives?

Amanda Peacher Aug 19, 2021
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School binders are shown at a Walmart store on August 04, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Teens filled the worker gap this summer, but what happens when back-to-school time arrives?

Amanda Peacher Aug 19, 2021
Heard on:
School binders are shown at a Walmart store on August 04, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images
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Teenagers came to the rescue of many companies this summer, taking jobs that many businesses were desperate to fill. New numbers out Wednesday from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics show that the youth labor force was 22.5 million strong in July.

But it’s back-to-school time this month, which means some young people will be giving up their summer gigs. 

In Cedar Park, Texas, Alonzo Soliz said he’s been working double shifts at his Tropical Smoothie Cafe.  

“Making smoothies, making food, there’s times where I’m on dishes for an hour, hour and a half,” he said.

Soliz owns the cafe, but he’s filling in on the floor in part because some teenage workers are headed back to school. 

“I always tell the kids that there’s never a job I’m going to ask you to do something that I haven’t done myself,” he said.

About 20 out of 25 workers at his cafes are teens, and Soliz wants to keep them. If they say they have other obligations like track or basketball, Soliz will work around their schedules. 

Economist Paul Harrington at Drexel University said that’s key. 

“So I think that flexibility would probably be an important feature to your ability to recruit and retain kids,” he said.

That’s good for businesses in this time when it’s so hard to find workers, but Harrington also said work experience is good for kids. 

He points out that teens who work tend to save more money and end up better off financially long term. 

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