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Summer jobs aren’t just for kids anymore

Hiring Gains Drop Unemployment Rate To 7.7 PercentHiring Gains Drop Unemployment Rate To 7.7 Percent

Along with the encouraging news that the economy added 280,000 jobs in May, here’s another sign that the labor market is finally getting its groove back. More than a third (36%) of over 2,000 employers in a new CareerBuilder survey are bringing extra help on board for the summer. That’s up from 30% last year, which was already an improvement over the 21% that hired seasonal workers during the recession.

That’s not all. The kind of seasonal help that companies are adding now has changed markedly, too. Sure, the leisure and hospitality industry is doing about half of all summer hiring, so there are plenty of openings for pool lifeguards, camp counselors, waitpersons, and other temporary jobs traditionally held by teens and college students.

But CareerBuilder’s pollsters also found that “IT firms and financial services employers are among the first in line for summer workers,” and they’re looking for people with more training and experience than teens typically bring. Financial services companies run a close second to leisure industry employers, with 48% adding seasonal help. Information technology (46%), manufacturing (39%), and health care facilities (26%) aren’t far behind.

Most of these employers (77%) told the study’s researchers that they’re using summer jobs as three-month tryouts for regular full-time positions. “It’s a strong indicator of labor market momentum,” says Matt Ferguson, CareerBuilder’s CEO, who expects the summer hiring surge to “carry over into full-time hiring across industries and job types” in the fall.

One sign that could happen: The companies in the survey are paying more than in the past. Slightly more than half (53%) said their openings pay $15 or more per hour, or a little over twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25 — a sunny outlook for grown-ups who hope to keep working long after the kids have gone back to school.