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How Many Teenagers Work?

Check out our research on the latest teen working statistics!


In today’s evolving job market, many young adults balance school and part-time jobs as a way to gain work experience while earning an income. As younger generations enter the workforce, it’s important to understand how they contribute to the country’s economy. 

The following analysis uses recent data to offer a snapshot of teenage workers and how key demographics influence the professional journey of American teenagers today.

How Many American Teenagers Are In The Workforce?

According to a recent article published by the Pew Research Center, approximately 5.5 million American teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were part of the U.S. workforce as of May 2022. 

Data shows that some of the most common occupations for teens include retail sales, food service, and manual labor. This suggests that the teenage workforce provides an important source of entry-level labor for many industries. In turn, these opportunities can also offer teens their first work experience and valuable income. 

Breakdowns by Demographic

Further breakdown of teen workforce demographics can offer insights into their employment patterns, career development, and the potential barriers this age group faces. 

Here are our key findings based on data from established U.S. government, education, and non-profit institutions:


Published in 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity Report estimated the following employment-population ratios for working teenagers aged 16 to 19 years: 

  • Whites, 30.6% 
  • Hispanics, 25.5% 
  • Blacks, 22.6%
  • Asians, 16.4%

Family Income Level

A study conducted by Drexel University revealed that affluent teens were twice as likely to secure summer jobs than their underprivileged peers. The study found that 40.8% of teenagers belonging to households with an annual income of more than $100,000 were employed, while only 20.2% of teenagers from families earning less than $20,000 per year had jobs. 

This disparity in employment rates suggests an economic divide in society and highlights how family income levels can impact the work opportunities available to teens. These limitations could also affect teenager career development in the future.

Geographical Location

An independent study published by the fintech company Self suggests regional variations in teenage employment across the United States. According to this report, Utah stands out as the state with the highest labor force participation rate for teenagers, with a rate of 53.2%. On the other hand, Mississippi has one of the lowest rates, with a participation rate of 25.5%. 

Generally, most states with high teenage labor force participation are in the Midwest and Mountain West regions. This could be influenced by socio-demographic, economic, or cultural factors specific to those states.


According to data from Statista, teenage girls in the United States tend to be employed while in school at a slightly higher rate than teenage boys. In 2021, about 21.7% of young women aged 16-19 were enrolled in school and working, compared to around 19.6% of young men in the same age group.

It’s important to note that this data focuses explicitly on teenagers enrolled in school and working. The study does not provide a comprehensive picture of all teen workers by excluding those who only work and are no longer in school.

Teen Work Statistics at a Glance

To add more perspective, here are some quick statistics that reveal a more detailed picture of teenagers and their experience in the workplace: 

  • Statista indicates that in 2021, the percentage of employed teenagers aged 16 to 19 while enrolled in school in the United States rose was 19.4 percent.
  • According to the online recruitment firm, Zippia, teens between the ages of 16 and 19 work an average of 25 hours per week.
  • As of the writing of this article, Zip Recruiter indicates that the average teen income is $2,727 a month.
  • Historically the BLS has observed significant growth in teen employment between the months of April and July, as high school and college students seek summer employment.

Kids’ Money Survey

Best Job and Side Hustle Ideas for Teens

Teens today have more options than ever when it comes to great jobs and side hustles. From traditional part-time roles like retail or food service to modern opportunities such as freelance work or online tutoring, teens can explore plenty of avenues. These work opportunities can generate income for teenagers while providing valuable skills and experience for their future endeavors.

Some popular teenage jobs include:

  • Tutoring younger kids: This is an easy way to make some cash by using knowledge teens already know and learn in school. 
  • Lifeguard: After receiving their lifeguard certification, teens often find that neighborhood pools offer great rates and the time flexibility they look for in seasonal jobs.  
  • Graphic design: With the prevalence of technology in the lives of teens these days, graphic design is a profitable and creative way to make some cash from anywhere.
  • Survey taker: With just a few clicks and a short amount of time, teens can take simple surveys in exchange for money.  
  • Barista: Local coffee shops are always a great spot for young workers to check out when looking for a first job.
  • Mowing lawns/landscaping: Asking around the neighborhood for physically-intensive jobs such as mowing lawns is a great way to make money as a teen.
  • Babysitting: Especially good for those who have siblings, babysitting is another flexible job option for teens who want to make extra money on their spare time. 
  • Coaching: For teens who play sports, coaching can be a dynamic job to pick up while also improving their athletic skills.
  • Summer camp counselor: If a teen is getting a bit too old to attend summer camp, transitioning to a counselor role could be a fun way for them to gain work experience and continue in the camp environment.
  • Customer service: Working customer service jobs such as retail are a classic first job that lots of teens enjoy.

Investing in Tomorrow’s Workforce 

The data available on U.S. teen workers shows a compelling picture of their role in the American workforce. From part-time jobs to side hustles, teens actively participate in the economy, gaining skills and earning income that can help them prepare for the future. 

Teen employment goes beyond providing financial independence – it helps our youth lay the foundation for tomorrow. As we continue to support and empower young workers, hiring teens and encouraging High School students to work can harness their potential and cultivate a generation of talented individuals ready to make their mark in the professional world.

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About the Author

Lucia Caldera

Lucia Caldera is a writer who specializes in personal finance. Her goal is to create approachable content that sparks financial wellness and unlocks personal growth. Lucia's work reflects her passion for financial education as the key to reducing the wealth gap for future generations.

Last updated on: December 28, 2023