Job prospects improve for teens

Based on the latest data, teens are most likely to work in accommodation and food services. Other major employment sectors for teens included retail trade, health care and social assistance, arts, entertainment and recreation and public administration.

Job prospects for Minnesota teenagers have improved considerably since the recession, with the average unemployment rate for young people ages 16 to 19 falling to 11.4 percent in 2014, according to figures from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

While the teenage unemployment rate was well above the 4 percent unemployment rate for all age groups on average in the state in 2014, the new figures are an improvement from teen jobless rates that surged to more than 20 percent during the recession. The average unemployment rate for Minnesota teens was 16.7 percent as recently as 2013.

In 2014, about 122,000 teenagers were working and another 16,000 were actively seeking work in Minnesota, according to DEED figures.

“Prospects for teenagers finding jobs this summer are better than in recent years, primarily because of an improving economy and tighter labor market,” said Oriane Casale of DEED’s Labor Market Information Office. “With strong employment growth in both the retail and the accommodation and food service sectors in March, this might be a great summer for teens in Minnesota to get some work experience and earn their first paychecks.”

The 11.3 percent unemployment rate for Minnesota teens ranked sixth nationally, with only Montana, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska having lower unemployment rates for that age group.

Minnesota has the seventh-highest labor force participation rate in the country for teenagers at 48.5 percent. Nationally, the teen labor force participation rate is about 33 percent.

Based on the latest (2013) third quarter data — the time of year when teen employment is the highest — teens were most likely to work in accommodation and food services. About 35 percent of employed teenagers worked in that sector during the period.

Other major employment sectors for teens included retail trade (23 percent of teen jobs), health care and social assistance (7 percent), arts, entertainment and recreation (7 percent) and public administration (5 percent).

On average, teens earned $663 during the quarter at jobs that DEED tracks. Many employed teens worked in less formal jobs that DEED does not track, such as baby-sitting or lawn mowing.

Relative to the overall population, teen unemployment is still high. The teen jobless rate was more than triple the unemployment rate for any age group over 25 in the state in 2014.

DEED offers services and programs to help teens find work. The agency’s job bank lists nearly 84,000 jobs, many of them suitable for teenagers. Job opportunities also are available through DEED’s youth employment, training and education programs.