The summer job market for teenagers got off to its slowest start since 1969, and older workers might be the reason, said Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago outplacement firm.

The U.S. economy added 6,000 teen-type jobs in May, which marks the beginning of the summer employment surge for 16- to 19-year-olds, the firm said, based on an analysis of the latest federal data. That compares with the 111,000 jobs added in May, 2009, in the throes of the recession.

The majority of those jobs are in the retail sector and the entertainment and leisure category, which includes movie theaters and amusement parks.

Employment among 20- to 24-year-olds, by contrast, grew by 270,000.

“... As the traditional summer hiring surge gets under way, it appears that employers may be favoring older job seekers, who are apparently more willing to take lower-paying positions,” said John Challenger, the firm’s chief executive.

Teenagers are facing the worst job market since 1969, when the number of teen summer jobs declined by 14,000.

In a story last month, Newsday chronicled how teens are facing the highest unemployment rate since at least 1948 in part because older workers are putting off retirement or jumping back into the job market to make ends meet. (In the photo above, teens look for work at a jobs fair in Hampton Bays last month.)

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