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Teenage Summer Employment Sees Strongest Start Since 2006

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CHICAGO -- At least one age group apparently is faring better in the weak job market: teenagers.

Summer employment for teens is off to its strongest start since 2006, based on an analysis of the latest Labor Department figures by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The number of 16- to 19-year-olds hired in May totaled 157,000. That was more than double the 71,000 jobs won by teens a year earlier.

The firm has forecast that 2012 will show continuing improvement for teens in the job market over 2011. Last year, employment among teens grew by 1,087,000, a 13 percent increase.

May is the first month of the teen summer hiring season, which ends in July. The solid hiring numbers for teens last month represented a dramatic increase from the paltry 6,000 teens hired in May 2010.

Despite the improvements, however, Challenger, Gray & Christmas says a growing number of teenagers are abandoning the summer job market. For example, the number of teens hired last month was still about 21,000 below the average of the five years before 2007, when the Great Recession began.

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