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An Appetizing Part-time Job

by Mark Schultz
February 2016 2016

Food preparation and serving occupations are in high demand in Southeast Minnesota, ranking seventh according to DEED’s Occupations in Demand data tool. With an estimated 20,109 people working in this occupation group in 2012 and a projected 8,390 total openings, 416 of them new jobs and 7,640 replacement openings between 2012 and 2022, this industry shows no sign of slowing down. The number of jobs in this industry has remained relatively stable since 2009 according to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages with the exception of a spike from 2011 to 2012 in Rice and Winona Counties (see Figure 1).


 FIgure 1


While it is true that jobs in this field traditionally are not known for high pay, what they offer is an excellent opportunity to earn some extra money – perfect for people like college students, people who crave a fishing boat, and those who have school loans to pay off, just to name a few. Even though we are out of the recession, times are still tough for some people. The price of gasoline is pretty low right now, but the cost of living for other things can be high in some areas and may require individuals to obtain a second job. Take Rochester for example, a prominent city in the Southeast Minnesota Economic Development Region. One of the largest issues Rochester is experiencing with the labor force shortage that is endemic to this city is the high cost of living. For example, according to the DEED Cost of Living tool, a single parent with a child needs an hourly wage of $19.97 an hour to afford the basic needs. This is certainly not going to be covered by a job in the food preparation and serving-related occupations. However, a second job in this field could help an individual or family make ends meet or earn extra money to save. Even in smaller towns in the region cost of living can be pretty high (see Table 1).


Table 1: 2015 Cost of Living for EDR 10 by County for a Single Person With One Child

County

Yearly Cost

Hourly Wage

Child Care

Food

Health Care

Housing

Transport

Other

Taxes

Dodge

$38,154

$18.34

485

463

278

900

601

191

262

Fillmore

$34,377

$16.53

426

466

284

660

700

158

171

Freeborn

$31,892

$15.33

434

468

284

660

554

158

100

Goodhue

$38,822

$18.66

596

466

284

774

653

174

289

Houston

$33,276

$16.00

428

468

278

747

550

170

132

Olmsted

$41,531

$19.97

763

470

278

900

502

192

356

Rice

$38,951

$18.73

517

464

284

868

640

186

287

Steele

$33,206

$15.96

424

468

284

753

537

171

130

Wabasha

$33,843

$16.27

527

464

278

660

580

157

154

Winona

$33,094

$15.91

489

467

284

693

532

162

131

Source: DEED’s Cost of Living Tool


As mentioned above, one of the major problems with jobs in this occupation is the low pay. Table 2 shows the wages for these jobs as shown in DEED’s Occupational Employment Statistics for the first quarter of 2015. None of the starting wages for all of these jobs are high enough to cover the cost of living in any of the 10 counties in the Southeast region. In fact, all but one, chefs and head cooks, fail to provide wages that would cover the cost of living for a single person with a child in these counties even at the 90th percentile.


Table 2: First Quarter 2015 Hourly Wages for Positions in Food Service and Related Occupations, Southeast Minnesota

Occupational Title

Hourly Wage Percentiles

10th

25th

Median

75th

90th

Chefs and Head Cooks

$13.54

$15.76

$18.46

$29.99

$35.81

First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers

$8.68

$10.31

$12.90

$16.25

$19.47

Cooks, Fast Food

$7.75

$8.10

$8.72

$9.32

$10.79

Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria

$9.24

$10.38

$11.86

$14.15

$16.70

Cooks, Restaurant

$8.10

$8.95

$10.49

$12.11

$16.22

Cooks, Short Order

$7.95

$8.58

$9.58

$11.11

$12.22

Cooks, All Other

$9.83

$10.35

$11.21

$12.38

$14.04

Food Preparation Workers

$8.03

$8.77

$10.17

$11.97

$15.25

Bartenders

$7.83

$8.29

$9.04

$10.36

$12.07

Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food

$7.77

$8.14

$8.80

$9.44

$11.64

Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop

$7.82

$8.22

$8.88

$9.54

$12.00

Waiters and Waitresses

$7.78

$8.13

$8.72

$9.31

$10.03

Food Servers, Nonrestaurant

$8.40

$9.60

$10.85

$12.24

$14.48

Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendants and Bartender Helpers

$7.78

$8.14

$8.75

$9.35

$10.87

Dishwashers

$7.82

$8.21

$8.86

$9.50

$11.06

Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurant, Lounge, and Coffee Shop

$7.76

$8.15

$8.81

$9.47

$11.18

Food Preparation and Serving Related Workers, All Other

$8.16

$9.07

$10.55

$12.07

$16.30

Source: DEED’s Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)



On August 1, 2015, the minimum hourly wage rose to $9.00 except for firms that gross less than $500,000 annually. Their minimum hourly wage is $7.25.


DEED’s employment projections and current vacancies are a mixed bag, good news and bad news. As shown in the Employment Outlook data tool, this occupation is projected to see 8,390 openings during this time, with 416 new openings and 7,640 replacement openings or openings created by people leaving the field (see Table 3.)


Table 3: Projected Openings from 2012-2022 in Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations, Southeast Minnesota

Occupations

Estimated 2012 Employment

Projected 2022 Employment

Percent Change 2012-2022

Numeric Change 2012-2022

Replacement Openings 2012-2022

Total Openings 2012-2022

Food Preparation and Serving Related

20,109

20,525

2.1%

416

7.640

8,390

Source: DEED’s Employment Outlook Tool


Here’s the killjoy “but” that comes with this good news. DEED’s current Job Vacancy Survey (see Table 4) shows that 54% of current vacancies are part-time and 29% are temporary or seasonal, with hours depending on the specific job in this industry. For example, 100 percent of the vacancies for non-restaurant food servers are part-time while only 6 percent of supervisors of food preparation and serving workers are characterized by part-time hours. This has a huge impact on earning potential as these part-time and seasonal jobs may not supply a “livable” wage. But, as mentioned earlier, jobs in this field are a ripe opportunity for those who need a job for some extra money for a variety of reasons.


Table 4: Second Quarter 2015 Job Vacancies in Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations, Southeast Minnesota

SOC Code

Occupation

Number of Vacancies

Part-Time

Temp. or Seasonal

Requiring Post-Secondary Education

Requiring 1+ Years Experience

Requiring Certificate or License

350000

Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations

1,745

54%

29%

0%

36%

2%

351000

Supervisors of Food Serving and Related Occupations

164

6%

0%

0%

94%

1%

352000

Cooks and Food Preparation Workers

374

40%

15%

0%

74%

4%

352011

Cooks, Fast Food

6

75%

0%

0%

35%

50%

352012

Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria

20

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

352014

Cooks, Restaurant

311

29%

18%

0%

87%

3%

352021

Food Preparation Workers

37

97%

0%

0%

2%

1%

353000

Food and Beverage Serving Workers

1,065

66%

34%

0%

19%

2%

353021

Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food

298

90%

0%

0%

0%

3%

353022

Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession and Coffee Shop

77

96%

71%

0%

4%

2%

353031

Waiters and Waitresses

665

51%

46%

0%

30%

1%

353041

Food Servers, Non-Restaurant

11

100%

1%

0%

4%

3%

359000

Other Food Preparation and Serving Workers

142

57%

63%

0%

3%

5%

359011

Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendants and Bartender Helpers

5

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

359021

Dishwashers

114

51%

78%

0%

1%

3%

359031

Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurant, Lounge and Coffee Shop

23

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Source: DEED’s Job Vacancy Tool


None of these low-skill, low-pay jobs require any post-secondary education. Obtaining a certificate or license may be required, however. For example, as shown in Table 4, 50 percent of the vacancies for fast food cooks require a certificate or license. More than likely this may be a ServeSafe® food handler certification, which can be obtained online and costs only $15 on their website or one can search for other in-person trainings on their website. Another certificate that is available in class and online is the ServeSafe® Food Manager certification. At Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical this is a one-day course and costs $167.

What appears to be more important for these vacancies is having experience. While this is not surprising for positions as a supervisor, where 94 percent of the vacancies require one or more years of experience, other positions require experience as well. Vacancies for restaurant cooks (87 percent), cooks and food preparation workers (74 percent), fast food cooks (35 percent), and waiters and waitresses (30 percent) also require experience. The good news is that there are other vacancies in the Food Services Industry that do not require any or require very little experience, such as combined food preparation and serving workers and dishwashers. These vacancies are a perfect way for individuals to get their foot in the door, gain experience, and move up to better positions in the Food Services industry. Furthermore, while working and gaining experience, individuals can work on impressing their manager by working hard, showing up for all shifts, taking on extra duties, etc. and get promoted from within.

While employment in food preparation and serving-related occupations may not turn out to be a career, it is certainly a good way to earn extra money as a second job for whatever reason. Take, for example, fast food cooks who earn $7.75 per hour at the 10th percentile. At 15 hours a week that’s a gross pay of $465 per month. Even after taxes that could easily cover a car payment or rent for a college student who shares an apartment or house with roommates. Not bad for a few shifts a week.

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