Young teens have long flooded the applicant pools for convenience restaurants and shopping malls for decades. But due to a looming recession and higher-paying industries that have become more democratized, young people are expecting more out of their first jobs.
An example is evidenced by what’s happening at Funtown Splashtown, an amusement park in southern Maine that has long leaned on staffing teens for their summer operations. In an interview with Fortune, Cory Hutchinson, a general manager at the park said they’d hire around 350 workers this summer, a downtick of about 150 teens as compared to past years.
“We literally do not have enough people to staff the place seven days a week and into the evenings,” he told the outlet. Fortune also notes that the park shortened their hours due to the operational limitations.
In the report, Fortune posited that teens are choosier because of Great Resignation era salary boosts when employers were in more control of the workforce.
“After COVID settled down, everyone was being paid more,” an 18-year-old recent high school graduate told Fortune.
Another teen, Jack Gervais, 18, of Cumberland, Maine, said “Nobody I know would work for minimum wage, unless there were major tips involved,” according to Fortune. He landed an internship paying $13.80 an hour that also offers him up-skilling opportunities that align with his career goals.
It isn’t surprising that teens are prioritizing higher paying opportunities since inflation continues to drive up prices. Inflated living costs recently reached a 40-year high in 2022, with the current US rate at 4.98%, compared to 6.04% last month and 8.54% last year.
For example, as ESSENCE previously reported, listed rents across the country for available increased 15% from 2021, with the average rent price being above $2,000 a month across the county. Rent in cities like Austin, Seattle, and Cincinnati is up by 30%. The median asking price for rent in Los Angeles is $3,400.