Teen employment in Tennessee at two-decade high

Published 4:13 am Thursday, June 15, 2023

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More Tennesseans aged 14 to 18 are employed than have been in more than 20 years, according to a new report from the Tennessee Data Center.

More than 109,000 teens were employed in the summer of 2000, but that number dropped to 50,000 workers in 2010. That number then rose again to 103,000 in the third quarter of 2022.

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“Through the first three quarters in 2022, the latest available data, monthly earnings for a teen worker in Tennessee averaged $805,” the report said. “Accounting for recent inflationary pressures, this was off slightly from the $818 per month level recorded in 2021. Monthly earnings in 2021 were the highest seen since 2000 when adjusted for inflation.”

Teen earnings were 13.5% lower in 2019 than in 2000, adjusted for inflation. The workforce as a whole, meanwhile, grew by 12.6% over that same timeframe.

The early employment data for 2023 shows that things could be improved even more.

“Preliminarily, the number of workers age 14 to 18 across the country grew 1.6 percent in April compared to one year ago,” the report said. “More impressively, this year’s April unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-old teens reached its lowest-level since 1956.”

Nearly 50% of the employed teens worked in accommodation and food services while 21.4% worked in retail trade and 6% working in arts, entertainment and recreation.