“June typically averages the most job gains of the summer months, with well over 700,000 jobs added on average since 2006, but these are some of the strongest numbers we’ve seen since the recovery,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Mark Anderson of Montgomery County Development Services said teens are taking back traditional “first jobs” as the unemployment rate continues to hold steady. June’s unemployment rate was put at 4.4 percent. That’s a slight increase from May’s jobless rate, which was 4.3 percent.
“We have a very low unemployment rate,” he said. “When the unemployment rate is higher, adults tend to take jobs in the sectors where teens would’ve typically gotten their first job. Adult are not needing those jobs anymore.”
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The June surge is 48 percent higher than the same month last year, when nearly 700,000 jobs were added, and 126 percent higher than the gains in May. It is the highest June total since 2007, when 1,114,000 jobs were gained among the age group.
Local employers said they saw similar changes in the amount of applications they received in June compared to May. Kings Island, which planned to employ about 4,200 workers for the 2017 season, has a large amount of teens working for the amusement park. About 65 percent of their employees fall within that age group, according to spokesman Don Helbig.
“We did see an increase in applications in June over May once the school year ended,” he said. “Opportunities are currently available for the remainder of the summer, as well as for weekends in the fall in all areas of park operation.”
Some economic experts believed retail closures would impact teen employment, but Challenger doesn’t believe it has. Challenger has tracked over 5,000 announced closures of retail locations since January 2017. In the early 2000s, between 13 and 15 percent of retail industry employees were teenagers, according to the NRF. After the Great Recession, the number is now between 10 and 11 percent of employees.
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“While May gains were lower than average this year, June’s more than offset that pace. It seems the recent decline of brick-and-mortar retail locations has not subdued hiring among teens,” Challenger said.
While teens are finding jobs outside of retail, many are still flocking toward traditional stores for seasonal positions. In late June, JCPenney announced it would hire 600 employees throughout Ohio. The retailer needed associates for a variety of customer service and support positions, including: cashier, replenishment specialist, SEPHORA inside JCPenney beauty consultant and salon stylists.
The retail chain has a presence in the Dayton region with seven stores, including one at the Dayton Mall in Miami Twp., one at Fairfield Commons in Dayton and one at the Miami Valley Mall in Piqua, according to JCPenny’s website. The retailer also has a store at Bridgewater Falls Shopping Center in Fairfield Twp.
Since 2008, retailers have employed at least 55 percent of working teenagers, more than any other industry, according to the NRF.
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“The beginning of every success story is … always the same: the first job,” said Ellen Davis, NRF’s senior vice president of research and strategic initiatives. “The position that empowers an individual to build poise and professional skills, refine their career goals and rise to management and executive-level positions.”
Employers like Kroger, Lowe’s, Meijer and and Costco all contribute to helping train younger people for the workforce. In late June, Cincinnati-based retailer Kroger said it was hiring for 800 open positions at all Kroger locations.
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Kroger just opened its newest location in the area early this month at the Cornerstone of Centerville development, where approximately 250 people were hired. It is also opening a new marketplace location in Fairborn by the end of August.
Teen employment helps teach kids the basics — how to communicate with their bosses, clock in and out, show up on time, and prepare them in a real-world settings for life after high school, Anderson said. Montgomery County helps do just that for thousands of kids through the YouthWorks summer employment program.
“We want them to get that work experience,” he said. “It instills work readiness and job skills for their future.”