6/9/2017 9:54:04 AM
Luke Greiner, Mark Schultz
As schools let out for summer, many high school students start looking for jobs at local employers. Lucky for them, hiring activity is up in Southwest Minnesota over the past couple years as the economy has continued to expand and the labor market has grown tighter, presenting a more favorable environment for teenage job seekers.
After falling during the recession, the number of new hires in the region was returning to pre-recession levels in 2015 and 2016, and should continue increasing in 2017. Employers reported just over 22,000 new hires last year, and nearly 24,000 new hires the year prior, the highest number since 2007. New hires were up 33 percent since the low point in 2009 (Figure 1).
In 2006, about 14 percent of new hires in Southwest Minnesota were between 14 and 18 years of age, the highest concentration in the past decade. In contrast, high school students dropped to 12 percent of new hires during the recession and recovery, as employers relied more heavily on older, more experienced workers to fill jobs. As the labor market tightens, more teens have been hired in the past couple years, rising back to 12.7 percent of all new hires in 2016.
Certain industries rely much more heavily on teenage workers, with accommodation and food services and retail trade accounting for just over half of all 14- to 18-year-old new hires. Combined, those two industries hired 1,442 14- to 18-year-olds in 2016, down from 1,670 new hires in 2015. Other employers in the region that hired high schoolers on a more limited basis include health care and social assistance, public administration, manufacturing, construction, and arts, entertainment, and recreation. There was also a notable amount of hiring in agriculture and educational services (Figure 2).
Nearly one in every four new hires in accommodation and food services and one in every five new hires in retail trade was 14 to 18 years of age, showing how much employers in these industries depend on high school students to fill their workforce needs. For many workers, their first jobs were at a local restaurant, convenience store or resort or hotel.
Interestingly, other less obvious industries also do a lot of first-time hiring. In Southwest Minnesota, public administration actually has the highest percentage of 14- to 18-year-old new hires in relation to total new hires across all age groups, followed closely by arts, entertainment and recreation. This could include summer jobs mowing lawns for the city or the local golf course, life guarding at local beaches or swimming pools or cleaning buildings (Figure 3).
Teen job seekers will find a strong job market with many opportunities, especially in industries that rely on high school students to fill their jobs in the summer.