Goodbye entry level?

If you were a Minnesota teenager in the Old Economy — year 2000 — the odds were good you were part of the state’s workforce. If you were a young adult in that economy, you had a decent chance of getting a job without prior experience or a college degree.

But those entry level opportunities seem to be slipping away.


New research from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development showing the recession widening the gap between people with some work experience and those without.

It also shows the recession accelerating the retreat of teens from the workforce while their jobless rates skyrocket.

Together, those facts ought to keep us up at night.

There’s great value to that foot-in-the-door job. It gives teens a first taste of the responsibilities of work. It provides important training for adults. We need teens and young adults to help rebuild the economy. But the recession’s leaving people behind.

DEED found:

In the Twin Cities, nearly 55 percent of job openings in fourth quarter 2009 required some form of post-secondary training, compared with 31 percent of openings during fourth quarter 2001.

Likewise, the number of entry-level opportunities–those requiring no previous experience–declined from 38 percent in the fourth quarter of 2001 to 26 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Here it is in a DEED graphic (click on the chart for a larger view).


One more piece of data from DEED shows the rise of people 55 to 64 years old in the workforce as the teen workforce numbers decline (click on the chart for a larger view).


Youth labor force participation rates declined by more than 16 percentage points in the past 10 years, as Minnesota’s youth opted for other opportunities, such as additional education.

Those who choose to search for part-time or summer jobs are now forced to compete with a larger pool of job seekers, some with more skills and experience. As a result, average unemployment rates for youth ages 16 to 19 topped 21 percent in 2009.

We’ve been writing a ton about education and the demand for youth jobs during this recession and we know the problems out there.

We saw 4,000 kids apply for 1,300 jobs this year in a popular Minneapolis paid summer internship program.

We also know that teen jobs have become a crucial piece of family income for some families in the Twin Cities hurt in the recession.

The current troubles that are squeezing job chances for teens and people with no experience or a college degree may simply be a fact of life in the Great Recession. Or we may be seeing a shift in the labor force that will be widening the haves and have nots even as the recession ends.

Tell us what you’re seeing. We’re interested especially in businesses that hire teens and entry levels young adults. Are your hiring practices changing? Drop us a line and make us all smarter.

  • Tracy

    I am an assistant manager at my place of work. And yes we are currently hiring for entry level positions. But we don’t really hire teens because they usually don’t know how to go about the process.

    I’ve seen some rather strange things I never thought I would ever see. Such as calling and leaving messages where they are trying to schedule their own interview. Or applicants getting pissy with me because they had to wait five minutes for me to print out more applications. My favorite was an interviewee who showed up an hour early for her interview and was kind of irate when my boss the one giving the interview was late because he had car problems.