Summer 2012 may well be the season of the teen job recovery. After two years of unrelenting bad news for teens, and the daunting current statistic of 24.6 percent teen unemployment, the job market is finally looking promising for those aged 16 to 19.
Almost 160,000 teens between those ages found summer jobs in May, which was more than twice the number of jobs that were added last May, according to a recent study by the outplacement company, Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
Summer jobs are critical for young people, providing what Michael Saltsman, an expert on teen employment, calls "an invisible curriculum," teaching teens the things they will need to succeed in the world of work. "The experiencing of dealing with a manager and customers and getting up early make you a more viable candidate," says Saltsman, a research fellow with the Employment Policies Institute. "The value is a lot more than a paycheck, because these are things you aren't necessarily exposed to in school."
Still, with the U.S. economy struggling, America's youngest workers will face tough competition from college students and older, unemployed workers. Additionally, many jobs that teens used to fill, such as grocery store cashier, are being eliminated due to automation, says Saltsman.
So what are the best jobs for teens this summer? Which have the most openings? AOL Jobs studied data from the U.S. Census Bureau with Saltsman, and found the seven occupations (along with their average pay) having the highest rate of teen employment.