Lazy days? Not this summer

June 12, 2024

by Liv Wang
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Pay is strong and hiring is up for young workers this season. 

Summer, especially the month of June, is hiring season for young workers. One in 3 new summer hires are aged 16 to 22, teens and young adults who are likely to be back in class after Labor Day.

Drawing from the U.S. payroll data of over 25 million workers, the ADP Research Institute identified as many as 1.2 million new hires each month. We used that data to take a snapshot of summer-break hiring. Here’s what we found.

Yep, summer hiring is a thing

Teens and young college students have long sought summer jobs, and employers have hired them. Monthly data on new hires shows a sawtooth pattern for 16- to 22-year olds, who make up about a third of all new hires each June.

Compare that to young adults aged 23 to 26, who are likely to be recent college graduates. In any given month, they account for about 15 percent of all new hires.

Who’s doing the hiring?

No surprise here. In late spring and summer, demand for hotels, restaurants, and other leisure and hospitality services soars, and a big percentage of this industry’s hires are young seasonal workers.

While leisure and hospitality leads the way, other service industries, including retailers, warehouses, and transportation, also are big employers of young people during the summer, taking advantage of young workers’ availability to offer entry-level jobs.

This past May, more young workers were hired than last May, so we expect strong summer hiring in these industries.

Percentage of new hires aged 16 to 22

IndustryMay 2023June 2023July 2023May 2024
Leisure/hospitality 38% 47% 43% 38% 
Other services 25% 40% 36% 28% 
Trade/transportation/utilities 27% 35% 33% 29% 
Financial activities 19% 32% 23% 21% 
Information 19% 29% 25% 20% 
Manufacturing 17% 28% 21% 20% 
Professional/business services 19% 27% 22% 20% 
Natural resources/mining  20% 27% 22% 20% 
Education/health Services 18% 26% 24% 19% 
Construction 17% 25% 21% 19% 

The good news and bad news on pay

Pay for low-wage workers grew rapidly after the pandemic. In May 2019, new hires aged 16 to 22 earned a median base pay of $11.25 an hour. By May 2024, that hourly wage had increased 33 percent. But pay growth has since stalled.

Median hourly base pay of new hires 

Change over timeAge 16-22Age 23-26Age 27+
May 2024$15$17.10$19
Change from May 2023 0%0.6%5.5%
Change from May 2019 33.3%22.1%22.6%

In fact, wages for young new hires have been flat since December 2022 at about $15. Wages for newly hired 23- to 26-year-olds also have plateaued at about $17 an hour since June 2022. In contrast, new hires 27 and older still are seeing year-over-year wage increases of 5.5%.

Where’s the money?

Construction, manufacturing and natural resources, mining and other goods-producing industries typically pay more because their jobs demand skills or experience.

But when it comes to summer employment, leisure and hospitality is where demand for workers soars. Restaurants, retailers, and other service providers have typically offered lower hourly pay, but that’s changing amid labor shortages and rising minimum wages.

For these workers, median hourly pay is up more than 33 percent since May 2019, to $13.30 an hour. That’s still less than what other industries pay young workers but add in tips and many of these jobs suddenly look competitive.

In short, leisure and hospitality offers great opportunities for younger job-seekers because employers are willing to pay more for much-needed seasonal help.

IndustryMedian hourly base pay  
of new hires age 16-22, May 2024
from May 2023
from May 2019
Construction $18 2.9% 28.6% 
Manufacturing $17.80 4.7% 31.9% 
Natural resources/mining  $16.40 2.7% 26.4% 
Education/health services $16 3.9% 33.3% 
Financial activities $16 6.7% 33.3% 
Professional/business services $15.80 5.3% 31.7% 
Information $15 5.3% 30.4% 
Other services $15 0% 35.5% 
Trade/transportation/utilities $15 0% 36.4% 
Leisure/hospitality $13.30 2.5% 33.3%