Gen-Z teens are reversing an employment trend, working more than teens before them

Posted at 6:09 AM, Jun 04, 2024

ROYAL OAK — In the 1980's about 2 in 3, 16-to-19 year-olds were employed, or looking for a job.

However according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of teens working started to drop drastically in the early 2000's.

It was only until recently, with Gen-Z, that the number of teens working started to rise steadily one again.

Screenshot 2024-06-04 at 5.48.48 AM.png
Jimmy Zink, got his first job at Ray's Ice Cream

Jimmy Zink got his first job at Ray's Ice Cream in Royal Oak at age 16, he's 19 now.

He told us he got his first job at the ice cream shop Junior year of high school because his mom encouraged him to and, "When I was going to hang out with friends, when I was going to the mall or shopping, or I wanted to go to a Tiger’s game or something, I needed my own money."

He shared that a lot of his friends started getting first jobs around the same age.

Screenshot 2024-06-04 at 5.50.12 AM.png
Jason Eddleston, Owner of Ray's Ice Cream

His employer, Jason Eddleston, owner of Ray's Ice Cream told us that regarding teens, "I think this summer there seems to be a lot more looking for jobs. I definitely have a stack of applications probably about this high of people looking."

According to Consulting firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, the current teen employment rate is 36.7%.

That's the highest it's been since March of 2008.

Screenshot 2024-06-04 at 5.50.52 AM.png

The firm published that they believe the rise in young employment is due to inflation, financial needs, skill development, and independence.

Researchers say that while teen employment is on the rise, it most likely won't ever get close to what it was with Boomers and Gen X.

Zink told us this will be his last summer working at Rays.

He said he wants to go into business and believes the skills he has learned at the shop will propel him forward in his budding career.

"I feel like Gen Z is a go out and do it generation," said Zink. "Everyone in Gen Z is trying to do something, or kind of progress, or grow things in their own way."

Where Your Voice Matters