by Luke Greiner and Mark Schultz~


Southwest Minnesota boasts an almost 57% of people aged 16-19 were in the labor force over the last 5 years. That’s just over 13,000 teenage workers, which was about 6% of the total labor force.

Teenage work participation rates ranged from a low of 44.7% in Lac qui Parle County to a high of 74.3% in Lincoln County -the highest rate of any county in the entire state! Southwest Minnesota is known as a hard-working region. 21 of the 23 counties in the region had higher labor force participation rates than the state itself. 6 counties had more than 60% of their teens in the labor force (see Map 1).

Map 1 Labor Force 16-19

Teens are most likely to work in the accommodation and food services and retail trade, accounting for about two-thirds of teen jobs. However, places like child day care services, amusement parks, and public administration are also where teens have landed employment.

“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.

Of the 13,000 teenage workers here, just over 1,900 were considered unemployed that were actively seeking work. That’s an unemployment rate of 14.5% in 2013; nearly three times higher than the total population.  In contrast, unemployment rates were lowest for workers between 25 and 54 years of age.

The lowest teen unemployment rates in the region were found in Lac qui Parle (1.3%), Lincoln (4.8%), and Cottonwood (5.0%) Counties, which were among the five lowest rates in the state. Likewise, Murray (6.5%), Big Stone (7.8%), Faribault (7.9%), and Martin (8.3%) ranked within the 10 lowest unemployment rates of the 87 counties in Minnesota (see Map 2.)

Map 2 Unemployment 16-19In contrast, the highest jobless rates for teens were found in Sibley (25.6%), Nobles (23.2%), Swift (21.5%), and Le Sueur (20.2%) County, which were all among the top 25 teen unemployment rates in the state. Employers in these counties may have an easier time recruiting teenagers to fill their jobs.

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.


For more information, contact Luke Greiner at 320-308-5378 or Mark Schultz at 507-205-6068.



Luke Greiner is the Central & Southwest Regional Analyst for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Mark Schultz is the Southeast Regional Analyst for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Featured image courtesy of Fort Carson under Creative Commons 2.0.