Inflation's Impact: The teen summer work surge

Inflation’s Impact: The teen summer work surge

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- As the academic year draws to a close, teenagers may be looking for a summer gig.

A new CNET survey shows 93 percent of American adults are concerned about inflation, and more than half have cut back on non-essential purchases because of higher prices. And for younger adults, the impact is even worse. Twenty-four percent of millennials and 23 percent of Gen Z admit to using their savings to cover essentials these days. Additionally, 18 percent of millennials and 16 percent of Gen Z confirm they're using credit cards to cover regular expenses.

It's largely a buyer's market for jobs, as there are more jobs available nationally than there are workers to fill the needed positions, according to Bankrate. But as summer picks up speed, the workforce coming in to fill spots is high schoolers, like John Adams High School student Christian Alvarez.

"I just want to work this whole summer," Alvarez. "I want to see if I can work every day."

Alvarez is 17 years old and almost done with 11th grade at John Adams.

For teens like him, getting a job in high school means having some independence in the form of extra spending money.

"I like money, and I like to buy my own things, and I don't want to have to depend on other people to give me what I want when I can just go work and make money and buy what I want."

But on top of school, he's working two jobs, one in the kitchen at a nearby fast-food joint, and one here at local Mexican eatery La Esperanza.

"I'm about to start a side business for landscaping. So, we'll see how that goes," Alvarez said.

It's a lot for any teenager, but he said he knows people who take on even more. He admits he may not have a lot of expenses at such a young age.

"I mean, I don't really have a lot of bills," he said. "Phone bill, insurance, and then my Spotify."

But that doesn't mean he's not feeling inflation's impact!

"I'm feeling the pinch," he said. "I went to Martin's the other day to buy a bag of Doritos. Six dollars and 49 cents or something like that. I was like 'That's crazy.'"

More teens nationally are picking up summer shifts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows an increase from 5.7 million teen workers last April to 5.8 million teen workers this April.

Jessica Guzman is a manager at La Esperanza, where Alvarez works, and says they are actively hiring.

"We're kind of low-staffed right now and it seems like high schoolers are kind of the ones that are more eager to work right now," she said.

She said she is seeing more high schoolers than ever applying and working.

"Honestly, I want to say maybe the cost of living, I mean it is getting pretty hard for parents to do it on their own. A lot of them want to help out at home, a lot of them just want their independence."

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