Make us your home page

Summer work scarce

As a teen in the 1990s, I spent an hour or two applying for after-school jobs and had an offer in a week. Marquetta Cooper wishes it were that easy. "I've been trying to find a job for a long time now," said the 18-year-old from Coon Rapids, Minn. She has been looking for a retail position for more than a year, hoping that she finds something by summer so she can pay for school supplies this fall.

Unfortunately for Cooper and many teens like her, the employment outlook for 16- to 19-year-olds is terrible and has been since the economic downturn hit.

Last year, teens experienced the worst job market since 1949, with an unemployment rate of 25 percent nationwide. Because of overall high unemployment, inexperienced teens found themselves jockeying with recent college grads and unemployed adults for entry-level gigs frying burgers and folding clothes.

Summer 2011 is shaping up to be more of the same. "These statistics are really much more grim than they've ever been," said Oriane Casale, of Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development. "Many youth are just not going to find a full-time or even a steady part-time job this summer."

The data show teens will have better luck with seasonal employers such as landscaping companies and amusement parks, or in the growing health care sector than they will in retail, manufacturing and construction.

Yes, it's looking bleak out there. But that doesn't mean you can't earn money this summer. Start your job search now.

Network with your friends and family, suggests Mark Griffin, a high school business teacher. Research the business you're hoping to work for. When you shake someone's hand, look that person in the eye. Also, dress for success. "That doesn't mean you show up for a job at Subway in a three-piece suit, but dress appropriately. Leave the holey jeans at home," he said.

If your pavement-pounding doesn't pan out, create your own summer job mowing lawns, babysitting or organizing garage sales. There are plenty of resources out there to help you, from the young entrepreneur's page at

See if you qualify for a youth job program, typically reserved for teens with special needs or who come from low-income families. But it's tough to get into these programs, too.

If the money isn't a must-have, spend time developing your job search skills. Use job training centers, taking classes to practice interviewing and to build a solid resume.

Finally, consider spending the summer volunteering or working an unpaid internship. Both look great on college applications. Long term, a college degree will improve your employment prospects and increase your earnings potential. "More and more, education is what matters in the labor force," Casale said.

Spending time applying for college scholarships found on sites such as and can ease the financial setback of working for free.

Summer work scarce 04/19/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. As Dow hits new high, Raymond James Financial reports record financial gains


    On the same day that the Dow closed at new highs, investment firm Raymond James Financial reported record revenues and earnings for its fiscal third quarter that ended June 30.

    Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly unveiled record quarterly revenues and earnings for the St. Petersburg-based investment firm. [Courtesy of Raymond James Financial]
  2. Florida GDP growth in first quarter 2017 ranks 21st among states, still outpacing U.S.

    Economic Development

    Florida's gross domestic product or GDP rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter, slightly faster than the nation's growth of 1.2 percent and placing Florida 21st among the states for growth rates, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    Not too hot. Not too cold.

    These Jackson Square Townhomes began hitting the west Hillsborough County market late last year and continued to be sold into the first quarter of 2017. The real estate sector was the biggest driver of Florida's gross domestic product, which rose 1.4 percent in the first quartrer of 2017.  [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  3. A new app will help you find your favorite Tampa Bay food trucks

    Food & Dining

    What's new: Food tech

    Local food businesses are embracing new technologies and partnerships to bring us extra deliciousness.

    Michael Blasco of Tampa Bay Food Trucks says that everyone always asked about an app to help find their favorite food trucks. There is, available for iPhones and Droids.
  4. Another Pinellas foreclosure auction fools bidders, raises questions

    Real Estate

    For the second time in six weeks, a company connected to lawyer Roy C. Skelton stood poised to profit from a Pinellas County foreclosure auction that confused even experienced real estate investors.

    A Palm Harbor company bid  $112,300 for  this Largo townhome at a foreclosure auction July 21 not realizing the auction involved a second mortgage, connected to lawyer and  real estate investor Roy Skelton -- and that the bank could still foreclose on the  first mortgage.
  5. Clearwater-based USAmeriBank acquired by New Jersey bank in $816 million deal


    CLEARWATER — USAmeriBancorp, Inc., based in Clearwater, is being acquired by New Jersey's Valley National Bancorp in an $816 million deal, it was announced today.

    Joe Chillura, CEO of USAmeribank, shown inside a branch in Ybor City in this file photo.