By Chet Bodin~


As schools begin wrapping up for the summer and businesses continue to post “help wanted” signs looking for workers to fill their jobs, teenagers will find many opportunities to earn some money, learn work ethic, and gain experience through summertime employment.

The labor force participation rate was even higher for teens in Northwest Minnesota, where almost 56% of people aged 16-19 were in the labor force over the last 5 years. In Northwest Minnesota, that translates to over 17,300 teenage workers, or about 6% of the total regional labor force.

Teenage labor force participation rates ranged from a low of 30.9% in Norman County to a high of 67.2% in Douglas County (home to Alexandria and its new high school). In 20 of the 26 counties in the region, more than half of teens participate in the labor force (see Map 1).

Two-thirds of jobs held by teenagers can be found in the accommodation and food services and retail trade industries. However, data show that teens also find jobs in other industries, such as health care, arts and entertainment,  and recreation, and public administration.

Map 1 Labor Force 16-19

“With strong employment growth in both the retail and the accommodation and food service sectors in March, this might be a great summer for teens in Minnesota to get some work experience and earn their first paychecks.” said Oriane Casale of DEED’s Labor Market Information Office.


Of the 17,300 teenage workers in Northwest Minnesota, about 2,800 (16% in 2013) were considered unemployed and actively seeking work. That’s about two and half times higher than the region’s overall rate.  In contrast, unemployment rates were lowest for workers between 25 and 54 years of age.

Interestingly, Northwest counties that were home to major colleges and universities were the hardest for teens to find work in.  Beltrami (28.2%), Stevens (27.6%), and Polk County (19.5%) had the highest teen unemployment rates.

Teens here may find stiffer competition for summer employment from area college students.  But with a slightly higher unemployment rate, employers may not have to fight as hard to fill positions for the willing and able!

For more information, contact Chet Bodin at 218-825-2183.


Chet Bodin is the Northwest Regional Analyst for the Labor Market Information Office, Department of Employment and Economic Development