Gen Z is Bringing Back the Part-time Job

Teen employment reached a 14-year high last year, as new opportunities and higher wages draw high schoolers to the workforce

By Abha Bhattarai and Lauren Kaori Gurley: More of today’s Gen Z high-schoolers are making their way into the workforce, picking up after school and summer jobs, and reversing a trend of foregoing work when millennials were teens.

At least 250,000 more teenagers are now working compared to before the pandemic, part of a gradual but consequential shift that is boosting employment at restaurants and stores, and changing cultural norms. In all, 37 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds had a job or were looking for one last year, the highest annual rate since 2009, according to Labor Department data.

That pickup follows more than four decades of declines, a pattern that accelerated in the 2000s, U.S. Labor Department data shows. “The teenagers who are here now, they really want to be here,” said Nilo grace, a pizzeria owner in Albuquerque, who went from having no teens on staff to hiring three, a quarter of his workforce. “They’re energetic and ready to work, which wasn’t really the case with the previous generation of millennials.” Read more