Teen demand for summer jobs on the rise in Maine

The increasing number of teenagers seeking summer work in Maine will have more options this year after a new law took effect opening more jobs to 14- and 15-year-olds.

The law will allow teens of those ages to work in bowling alleys, movie theaters, amusement parks and will expand the work they can do in hotels and motels.

The law takes effect as teenagers’ demand for summertime work is at a recent high and on track to outpace recent years, according to data from the Maine Department of Labor.

[More Maine employers can hire 14- and 15-year-olds]

Correction: A previous version of this story misrepresented total permit requests. Only totals for 2017 are year-to-date.

Maine Department of Labor Commissioner John Butera said they’ve seen a surge in permits this year, but that appears specific to the summertime. Applications for June have risen steadily since 2014, but remain below pre-recession levels.

Part of the overall decline since 2000 may be shifting demographics, with fewer teens in the state overall.

Historically, applications in June have made up about 30 percent of the total applications for the year. If that ratio continues to hold, the state would be on track to hit 2005 levels for work permit applications by year’s end, based on 2017’s June applications.

Julie Rabinowitz, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Labor, said the department received 500 applications in the last week of June alone.

Butera said the department is working to turn around permits as soon as possible. Part of the new law also simplifies that process and allows the applications to be submitted electronically.

The law retains caps on how many hours teens can work when school is in session and around certain days of the week.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.