April 2, 2014 1:38 PM EDT

In a sign that the U.S. economy continues to build momentum, summer hiring and pay are expected to jump in 2014. Many seasonal jobs have already been filled. Summer job seekers should act soon to secure the jobs that remain open.

Last year, summer employment for youths aged 16 to 24 jumped by 2.1 million to 19.7 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those numbers should rise again this year, according to an annual survey by Snagajob, an online hourly employment network. The firm polls hiring managers in the retail, hospitality, and food services industries.

The survey jibes with improving overall employment trends. Manpower recently reported the best quarterly jobs outlook since the recession, noting especially positive outlooks in leisure and hospitality, and retail and wholesale trade.

On average, summer jobs will pay $10.39 an hour, which is more than the proposed federal minimum wage of $10.10. The highest paying summer jobs will be in hospitality ($10.89), followed by food service ($10.43) and retail ($10.07). Some 7% of summer jobs have already been filled; 74% will be filled by the end of May. Most employers expect the number of summer job applicants to hold steady this year, but a third expect more.

Some 74% of employers plan to make summer hires and only 14% say the number will be lower than last year, according to Snagajob. On average, employers expect to hire 25 summer workers. The vast majority of these workers—78%—will be new to the company, not returning to a familiar summer role.

The keys to landing a summer job are clear. The top things that hiring managers look for: A positive attitude and eagerness, named most important by 42% of those managers polled; willingness to work any time slot (25%); experience (17%); and a commitment to stay all summer (16%).

Decent paying summer employment has been difficult to find since the recession. So this brightening outlook is encouraging. As Jamie Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, posted last year on LinkedIn:

Young people who can afford it increasingly have turned to summer travel or additional classes rather than fight for the relatively few summer jobs out there. But, as Dimon suggests, the fight is worth it even if you have other options—and this year it shouldn’t be quite so difficult.








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