by Kate Aitchison

Summer jobs provide valuable work experience, help strengthen college applications, and provide teens with spending money. But they’re increasingly difficult to come by. Since 2000 the number of Minnesota teens (age 16-19) who are working during the summer months has declined by 47 percent! 


Teens may be less likely to have summer jobs because they are more focused on academics, participate in summer school or sports, or spend more time volunteering than in the past. The main reason for the decline in teen employment is the fact that our economy is still recovering from the Great Recession. Because there are now more adults looking for work and fewer total jobs available, teens are faced with more competition for those short-term summer opportunities.


Thinking About Where to Work

We learned in an article last week that many Minnesota teens and young adults work in the accommodation and food service or retail trade industries, holding jobs like housekeepers, fast food workers, waiters and waitresses, retail salespersons, and cashiers. Teens typically earned about $650 per month from their summer jobs. There were higher monthly earnings in manufacturing and construction, but fewer Minnesota teens work in those industries.


According to a study done by the Journal of Business & Psychology, the highest-quality teen jobs were office or clerical positions, such as administrative assistants, secretaries, file clerks, or general office clerks. These positions were ranked the highest because teens reported low levels of job stress, good interactions with older co-workers and supervisors, little interference with school and family roles, and opportunities to explore careers. At the opposite end of the spectrum, jobs in the fast food sector had the lowest job quality, as teens in those positions cited the highest amount of job stress and interference with education, family, and social life.


If you’re a teen considering summer employment, be sure to think about the factors listed above. Parents can also guide their teens by helping with time management skills, monitoring work hours, and helping identify jobs that will guide them in career exploration. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates (pdf) that on average, Americans hold 11 jobs between the ages of 18 and 44, most of which are held between the ages of 18 and 27.These jobs are valuable in helping young adults establish their career paths and making decisions regarding post-secondary education.


Wherever teens choose to work in Minnesota, it will be a competitive market this summer.


Get ready for a summer job with these job search tips for teens!