More teens are working this summer, and they’re making more money doing it

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — New reports show the number of teens who are working over the summer is trending upwards, and so is the average pay.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, workforce participation among teens is rebounding, after dropping dramatically in the 2000s.

In May 2014, just 33% of teenagers between 16 and 19 years old were employed or looking for a job.

A decade later, in May 2024, more than 37% of teens fell into the same category.

Here in Lexington, you can see some of the changes play out in real time at city pools.

Zach Martin, aquatics manager at Lexington Parks and Recreation, said he has seen a growing stack of applications to pick from to hire summer workers at city pools.

“We definitely have a lot more applicants this year. Last year, we had around 1,000 applicants. This year, we had about 1,500 combined in all of our positions,” Martin said.

While it follows the nationwide trend, some of the credit at Lexington pools can be attributed to a high minimum wage.

Pool attendants and concession workers at city pools make $15 an hour, while lifeguards make $15.75 an hour.

“There’s a lot of applicants who are really happy with the $15 an hour,” Martin said. “I know when I started back in the day, I was making $7.25 an hour, so $15 sounds really good.”

The average pay across the board is increasing for summer jobs.

According to a recent report from ADP Research, the average base pay for new hires climbed from $11.25 an hour in May 2019 to $15 an hour in May 2024.

With higher pay and higher costs, more teenagers are finding summer jobs appealing, which is a good thing for places needing summer help.

“We are definitely really well-staffed,” Martin said. “Due to the pool of applicants we get, we get a lot of good kids who have a good work ethic.”





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