Good news about teens and jobs

The following column appeared originally in a number of APG of East Central Minnesota newspapers.  Published during July, 2023.


Good news about teens and jobs


Here’s “good news … for teens who want to gain work experience and earn money for expenses or college” and “good news for employers who have summer jobs.” It’s from a concise, well-written May 2023 report from Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Recognizing that many teenagers already have found summer jobs, this report and several young friends of mine in their 20s have terrific advice and resources for teens seeking jobs or thinking about their future.

One of the things I like about DEED’s report is that it’s positive and upbeat about young people. It helps restore a more accurate balance, after the considerable negativity about youth, during and after the pandemic.

However, Oriane Casale, assistant director of DEED’s Labor Market Information Office, sees many pluses in youngsters. She writes: “Teens can be extremely reliable, flexible workers who are quick to learn new skills.” She points out that in Minnesota, “Teens comprised 27% of the Accommodation and Food Services industry, 20% of Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation, and 18% of Retail Trade during third quarter 2022. Without teens, these industries would struggle to keep their doors open.”

Casale offers tips for employers and for teens. For teens, she recommends:

— Recognize that you’ll be filling out an application, but have a one-page resume.

— The one-page resume should include both paid and unpaid jobs you’ve had, volunteer experience, and where you go to school. “Make sure there are not spelling or punctuation errors,” she advises.

For employers, she suggests, among other things:

— “Make sure you have an attractive website, online job application, or easy instructions on how to apply.”

— Post jobs on “job boards like, or America’s Job Exchange that teens are likely to find.”

This and additional information comes from a report entitled  Youth Summer Employment During the Pandemic Recession . It was published in  May, 2023 DEED and is found here:

My colleague, Khalique Rogers, who’s just celebrated his 28th birthday, also recommends that employers use and teens check the website. Following his advice, I instantly found local jobs in communities such as Bloomington, Caledonia, Elk River, Forest Lake, Little Falls, Monticello and Minnetonka. They include bakery clerk, pet sitting, lifeguard, water park attendant, Sea Life host at Mall of America, office clerk, “sandwich artist,” delivery person and tutor.

Khalique Rogers

Jose Perez, a 22-year-old leader at the youth advocacy group Bridgemakers, offered excellent advice. He wrote: “Make the most of the good job market and look for jobs in areas that match what you like and what you want to do. Use this chance to learn new things, get important work experience, and save money for life experiences/things you need. You can try working in places like hotels and restaurants, art and entertainment, sports and fun activities, stores, building and construction, transportation and warehousing.”

Jose Perez

I’d add one valuable suggestion that an adult gave to me when I was 15: Try to gain at least one new skill in every job. In one job, I learned to type. In another, I learned how to listen carefully to another person and build on what they were telling me.

Lessons like this can be helpful throughout a youngster’s life.

Casale’s DEED report also shows that wages are up significantly: “Teens earned a median hourly wage of $15.02 per hour and worked a median of 145 hours over the quarter during third quarter 2022, approximately 11 hours per week, in Minnesota. This puts hourly wages at record highs (series back to 2003). Median hourly wages grew 13.4% over the year for teens, almost double inflation and well above wage growth for all workers in Minnesota.”

So it’s a good time to be a Minnesota teenager looking for a job. And many teens are great employees.

Joe Nathan, Ph.D., formerly a Minnesota public school teacher, administrator and PTA president, directs the Center for School Change. Reactions welcome: