As the end of the school year draws near, high school and college students anxiously scan job boards and "help wanted" signs to secure a paycheck for the summer months.
What they're finding is a tough job market. In its annual teen summer job outlook, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. predicted weak summer hiring trends that are nearly as grim as 2010's were. Last year, there were only 960,000 summer jobs added for teens, down nearly 17.5 percent from almost 1.2 million in 2009.
"Competition for jobs will be significant," said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a news release.
Young job seekers not only will compete with other teenagers, but in certain job categories like retail and food service, they may compete with recent college graduates and older workers.
Even if you find a summer job, you likely won't get rich. With a few exceptions, these gigs will offer only slightly more than minimum wage. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a retail cashier earns a wage of $9.15 per hour. Though it's not just for retail cashiers in the summer, it's an example of the pay this type of job brings.
If you're still interested, below is Bankrate's list of the best summer jobs in 2011 based on interviews with potential employers and others familiar with summer job hiring.