4/11/2019 11:00:00 AM
Luke Greiner, Mark Schultz
As the school year comes to a close, well over half of high school students in the Southwest Minnesota region will be starting or continuing a job. According to the most recent estimates from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, about 57 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds in the 23-county planning region are participating in the labor force, which was slightly above the statewide rate and well above the national rate of 37.7 percent (Figure 1).
Teenagers comprise a small but vital part of the region’s workforce, and can help fill many of the open jobs currently posted by employers. For example, teenagers hold just 4 percent of total jobs in the region, but they hold nearly 18 percent of jobs in accommodation and food services and 11 percent of jobs in retail trade. Almost two-thirds of teenagers are employed in these two industries, making them the first stop on many peoples’ career paths.
Luckily for teenagers, employers in retail trade and accommodation and food services accounted for one in every four job vacancies posted in the region in the second quarter of 2018. If hiring trends are similar this summer, there should be literally thousands of open jobs for high school students to fill in just these two industries. Employers are looking for teenaged workers to bring on for the summer – and maybe longer.
Though still relatively low, wage offers in both of these industries have been increasing over time, partly due to the rising minimum wage and certainly in response to the tightening labor market. As employers compete for workers, wages have been rising. As evidence, the median wage offer for retail trade workers climbed to a high of $12.31 in the second quarter of 2018, up from $9 an hour in 2013. Likewise, median wage offers increased from under $8 an hour in 2013 to almost $10 an hour by 2018 (Figure 2).
If they’re looking, teenagers will find a lot of opportunities for work in Southwest Minnesota.