Although a 16-year-old can legally work any number of hours in any nonhazardous job, the leisure and hospitality industry has been a significant source of employment for this group. About a quarter of all employed persons 16 to 24 years of age worked in this field during the period from July 2013 to July 2014, according to occupational data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Labor Department classifies this segment of workers as the "youth labor force." About 20 percent of the youth labor force worked in the retail industry from July 2013 to July 2014. That's the second highest, behind the leisure and hospitality industry. The summertime represents peak hiring season for this work force, largely because of teens being out of school and actively seeking seasonal work.
The leisure and hospitality industry, which includes food services, has jobs such as cashier, waiter and waitress, and food preparation worker. Occupations in the retail sector include jobs such as stock clerk and salesperson.
Other jobs that the youth labor force holds are in the areas of construction, education and health services; professional and business services; and manufacturing. These jobs, and those in the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors, are nonagricultural jobs; however, the youth labor force also holds agricultural jobs, such as picking crops or unloading timber.