Amidst the nationwide labor shortage crisis, the solution is seemingly simple: teenagers. Senior Josh Steen, as well as being a student, is employed as a barista at the Midland Park Starbucks. Josh’s motivation for working is like any other teenager: money for college and gas. However, most teens do not realize that the future of the labor shortage crisis is in their hands.
After COVID, many companies began opening back up with lots of demand for jobs. The problem is that no one is filling the roles. Due to varying factors like retiring workers, fear of COVID, underpaid work, and immigration, many previous workers have not returned after the shut down, causing many companies across the country to be extremely understaffed.
In August 2021, there were 10.4 million job openings countered with 4.3 million people leaving their jobs; the highest level since 2000. To solve the lack of workers in jobs, companies have decided to appeal to a new group of people: teenagers. In order to woo teenagers, companies are raising pay, offering perks like free food, and promising flexible work schedules. In October 2021, statistics showed that only 11.9% of teens in America are unemployed, showing the highest rate of teen employment since 1968 (Dickler).
At Midland Park Starbucks, Josh says, “I would say while we are slightly understaffed, it's not as noticeable as it once was. In September or early October it was really bad, but Starbucks increased their pay and I think that helped a lot.” Josh reports that about 30 percent of his coworkers are teenagers, but comments on the difficulty that arises with being a student as well as a worker. “It's nearly impossible to balance all aspects of life and get rest being a student and employee.”
Despite this, teenagers charge into the workforce, showing a 6 percent increase in the number of teenage retail workers from just two years ago (Dickler).