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Gusto Teen Hiring Report: Strong Hiring & Stronger Pay in 2023

Luke Pardue Economist, Gusto 

Key Findings

  • Job Growth Among Teens Stays Strong in 2023: In the years after the pandemic, the US experienced a spike in teen summer hiring amid strong demand and a shortage of workers. Even as the overall economy cools down in 2023, the teen job market is expected to remain hot: employment among 15-19 year-olds is forecast to grow by 17% in June, compared to 19% in June of 2022. 
  • Teens Are Expected to Make Up Nearly 1 in 5 Hires This June: Teens continue to make up an ever-larger share of hires each year: in June of 2019, teens made up just 2% of all hires. Fast forward to June of 2022, and teens made up 15% of all hires, and now in June 2023, teens are forecast to make up 18% of all hires, the highest level in the four years we’ve been tracking this data.
  • As Overall Wage Growth Slows, Teens are Seeing Raises: Businesses are also expected to pay more for teen workers than last year, even as new hire pay overall is falling. Teens looking for jobs this summer can expect, on average, 9% higher wages than last year, according to Gusto’s New Hire Pay Index, at a national average of $14.89/hr.
  • Opportunities are Greatest in Personal Services Sectors: In Sports & Recreation, we predict 30% of hires will be 15-19 years old this June, and Food & Beverage comes right behind at 29%. Among the top industries hiring teens, Construction offers the highest wages at $17.91 per hour.
  • Summer Travel Destination Tops Teen Hiring: Across the country, Virginia Beach is expected to top the list for teen hiring, with a predicted 44% of all hires will be teenagers. Among the top ten cities hiring teens, Minneapolis-St. Paul offers the highest wages at $16.77 per hour.

The Summer Job Market For Teenagers

The U.S. has seen a surge in teen hiring every summer after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as companies grappled with a strong economy and a shortage of workers. As the summer of 2023 kicks off, we examined the outlook for teen hiring this year using real-time data from the 300,000+ small and midsize businesses on Gusto’s platform. We tracked the industries and cities where 15-19-year-olds are most likely to find jobs this year and where they can expect to command the highest wages.

Teen Hiring Remains Strong Despite Economic Uncertainty

While overall job growth this summer is expected to slow compared to last year, the job market for teenagers is expected to remain nearly as strong as last year. Employment among teenagers grew by 26% from May 2021 to June 2021, when the labor market shortage was most acute. Teen hiring came down slightly over the past two years, as the overall economy cooled, but teen hiring remains near levels seen last year, at an expected monthly growth rate of 17% in June 2023.

Employers are Turning to Teenagers at Record Rates

One reason we are seeing another strong year of teen hiring despite an economy growing more slowly than last year is that businesses hiring are turning to teenagers at increasing rates. This June, we forecast that 18% of new hires, nearly one in five workers hired, will be 15-19 years old – the highest rate in the four years we have tracked this data. In June of 2019, just 2% of hires were teenagers, and last year that rate reached its recent peak of 15%.

This continued surge is due in part to the fact that businesses that typically hire teenagers – such as Retail, Food & Beverage, and summer tourism industries – are continuing to drive job growth. Consumer demand this summer to shop, travel, and eat out has remained strong, and teens are prime candidates to fill positions as these businesses expand to meet demand.

Teenagers also remain an attractive option because the economic outlook remains uncertain, and business owners across all industries have their eyes on the bottom line. Teenage workers offer business owners a pool of talented workers who also are able to work at lower wages: the average hourly wage for a part-time worker 15-19 years old was $15.71 in May 2023, compared to $27.10/hr in May part-time workers 25-54 years old.  

Teens Hired This Year See Higher Wages Than in 2022

Although wages for teenagers are, on average, lower than older workers, teens can expect to see pay higher than what they received last year. Gusto’s New Hires Pay Index, an indicator of the change in pay that companies are offering new workers, shows that teens hired in May received wages 9% higher than teens hired last May – a sign of just how hot the job market for teens has remained. On the other hand, the New Hires Pay Index for older workers, 25-54 years old, dropped to -6% last year, as companies were paying 6% less for workers this May compared to the year prior as the job market cooled.

Hottest Subsectors and Cities for Teenage Workers

As teenagers are set to make up a larger share of hires this summer, there are also industries and cities where teenagers can find the most opportunities and the highest pay. The sectors where teens are expected to make up the largest percentage of hires are largely concentrated in the Personal Services sectors, which tend to employ teens in seasonal jobs over the summer. In Sports & Recreation, 15-19-year-olds are forecast to make up 30% of new hires this June, and in Food & Beverage, teens are expected to make up 29% of hires. 

Firms in Construction and Manufacturing are also looking to teenagers at significant rates amid a continued labor shortage in those industries, and among these top-hiring subsectors, teens in Construction can expect to earn the highest wages, at $17.91/hr.

Wage RankingSubsectorShare of Hires
15-19 Years Old
(Est. June 2023)
Average Wage For A
Teenager ($/hr)
4Non-Profits & Associations15%$16.01
6Food & Beverage29%$14.98
8Other Personal Services14%$14.65
10Sports & Recreation30%$14.06

Among the top 50 metropolitan areas, teens are set to account for far more than the 18% of hires expected nationally. In Virginia Beach, we forecast 44% of new hires will be 15-19 years old in June 2023, as companies in the city anticipate increased demand for jobs in Accommodations, Tourism, and Food & Beverage amid a strong summer travel season. Among these top-hiring metro areas, Minneapolis-St. Paul comes out as the spot where teenagers hired this summer are earning the highest wages, at $16.77/hr, followed by Austin at $15.88/hr – both cities looking at both strong summer demand and a still-tight labor market.

Wage RankingMetro AreaShare of Hires
15-19 Years Old
(Est. June 2023)
Average Wage For A
1Minneapolis-St. Paul21%$16.77
5Virginia Beach44%$14.90
8New Orleans19%$13.45


  • All data used in this report is based on payroll data processed from the 300,000+ small and midsized businesses on Gusto’s platform.
  • The teen hiring rate for a given month is the percent growth in teen employment month-over-month. That is calculated from the number of workers 15-19 hired as a percent of the total 15-19 year-olds already employed in that month. 
  • The share of hires is the portion of all new hires in a given month who are 15-19 years old.
  • Average hourly wages for newly-hired teenagers is the average net pay per hour worked among teen workers hired in May 2023.
  • Forecasting: The hiring rate and share of hires are forecast for June 2023 using time series forecasting methods based on data from January 2019 to May 2023, taking into account both seasonal patterns and recent trends.
Luke Pardue is an Economist at Gusto, researching how public policies help small businesses and their workers thrive. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, where he studied the effects of government programs on disadvantaged populations' housing and labor market outcomes. Luke currently lives in Washington, D.C.
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