Department of Labor and Regulation

Title - Labor Market Information Center

2011 Employment Outlook for Youth: from National, State and Local Perspectives

From the May 2011 South Dakota e-Labor Bulletin

National Youth Labor Force

Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tabulates labor force information, including data by age. Each month they tabulate labor force information from the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS provides information on labor force, employment, unemployment and persons not in the labor force. In July 2010, the unadjusted national labor force participation rate for the 16- to 24-age group was 60.5 percent, the lowest July rate on record. The July rate was down 2.5 percent from July 2009 and 17.0 percent below the peak for that month, which occurred in 1989 (77.5 percent).

The participation rate is the number of individuals working or actively looking for work compared to the population level for the same age group. The BLS uses the month of July to determine summer employment levels because it is the peak summer month for employment. The 2.5 percent decrease from 2009 represents the thirteenth time in the past 15 years the participation rate has declined. The only two increases were in 2006 and 2008. Increases in July school enrollments, indicating in previous years youth enrolled in school were much less likely to be in the labor market, probably explains why the national participation rate has declined since its peak in 1989. Other key factors include the increasing size of this age group, the softness of the labor market in the past few years and the restrictions applied to anyone under 18 years of age for jobs considered hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. The recent recession and the factors explained above also have contributed greatly to the decline.

Nationally, youth workers are concentrated in two areas: the leisure and hospitality industry and the retail trade industry. In July 2010, 24.8 percent of employed youth worked in leisure and hospitality (including fast-food restaurants), holding steady from 2009. Employing 19.7 percent of youth workers in July 2010, retail trade declined by 0.3 percent compared to July 2009. Nationally, youth worker numbers increased in the areas of mining, manufacturing of durable goods, information, professional and business services, education and health services, self-employed and federal government in 2010. The influx of 2010 Census workers created the increase in federal government numbers. All other industries' employment numbers decreased or stayed the same for employed 16- to 24-year-olds.

U.S. Young Workers by Industry
Industries Employing Persons 16 to 24 Years of Age in July 2009 & July 2010
(Numbers in Thousands)
Percent July
Total employed 19,304 100.0% 18,564 100.0%
Agriculture 381 2.0% 372 2.0%
Nonagricultural industries 18,923 98.0% 18,192 98.0%
 Private wage & salary workers 16,986   16,311  
    Mining 44 0.2% 63 0.3%
    Construction 871 4.5% 819 4.4%
    Manufacturing 1,098 5.7% 1,015 5.5%
       Durable goods 580 598  
       Nondurable goods 488   417  
    Wholesale trade 321 1.7% 297 1.6%
    Retail trade 3,851 19.9% 3,659 19.7%
    Transportation and public utilities 413 2.1% 355 1.9%
    Information 317 1.6% 361 1.9%
     Financial activities 823 4.3% 794 4.3%
    Professional and business services 1,350 7.0% 1,395 7.5%
    Education and health services 2,141 11.1% 2,169 11.7%
     Leisure and hospitality 4,799 24.8% 4,595 24.8%
    Other services 988 5.1% 789 4.3%
    Government 1,588   1,433  
       Federal 201 1.0% 221 1.2%
       State 516 2.7% 443 2.4%
       Local 871 4.5% 769 4.1%
Self-employed & unpaid family workers 350 1.8% 447 2.4%
Source: Current Population Survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In addition to employed youth, approximately 4.4 million youth were unemployed in July of 2010, essentially the same as in July 2009. Unemployed means they are actively looking for work and available to take a job. The youth unemployment rate edged up over the year to 19.1 percent, the highest July rate on record for the series, which began in 1948.

South Dakota Youth Worker Trends

Because the CPS does not provide labor force data for South Dakotans ages 16 to 24, other data sources are used. By using quarterly administrative data on workers covered by unemployment insurance, it is possible to estimate the number of younger workers taking summer jobs. Third-quarter numbers represent the end of summer as well as the highest worker levels for the year. First-quarter numbers represent the lowest worker levels, so the difference between the two should be a good indicator of summer jobs.

The following table shows the number of 16- to 24-year-old workers in South Dakota for the last ten years. The three years prior to 2007 employment grew at a steady, but moderate rate. In 2007 and 2008, summer employment numbers noticeably decreased. In 2009, numbers increased slightly, followed by a sizeable increase in 2010. Factors including an unstable economy and high gas prices could have caused the declines. Although these issues still existed in 2010, the federal stimulus programs in 2009 and 2010 aided South Dakota youth employment.

SD Workers
16 to 24
Years of Age
with Summer Jobs
Year Number
2001 18,632
2002 21,839
2003 19,017
2004 22,771
2005 23,161
2006 23,396
2007 20,581
2008 19,676
2009 19,891
2010 22,891

South Dakota Youth Worker Industry Distribution

Based on South Dakota Labor Market Information Center (LMIC) research for this article, it appears the industry distribution of South Dakota's young workers, which had been comparable proportionately to the national picture in past years, is moving in a different direction. More industries are losing employment nationally. Although South Dakota worker data by age groups is not available on a monthly basis, the LMIC staff determined the age group and industry percentages using quarterly administrative data on workers covered by the South Dakota Unemployment Insurance program. The following table shows the number and distribution of South Dakota wage and salaried workers ages 16 to 24 by each industry for the third quarters of 2009 and 2010.

SD Wage & Salary Jobs for Persons 16-24 Years of Age
Third Quarter 2009 & 2010
  2009 2010
Industry 3rd Qtr.
Percent 3rd Qtr.
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting 700 1.0% 742 1.0%
Mining 122 0.2% 115 0.2%
Utilities 117 0.2% 125 0.2%
Construction 4,532 6.2% 4,160 5.7%
Manufacturing 3,353 4.6% 3,653 5.0%
Wholesale Trade 2,223 3.0% 2,192 3.0%
Retail Trade 14,509 19.8% 14,564 20.0%
Transportation and Warehousing 650 0.9% 652 0.9%
Information 982 1.3% 873 1.2%
Finance and Insurance 3,183 4.3% 2,444 3.3%
Real Estate 550 0.8% 471 0.6%
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 1,348 1.8% 1,357 1.9%
Management 55 0.1% 45 0.1%
Administrative and Support, and Waste Management Services 2,341 3.2% 2,799 3.8%
Educational Services 2,785 3.8% 2,974 4.1%
Health Care 8,344 11.4% 8,478 11.6%
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 2,863 3.9% 2,938 4.0%
Accommodation and Food Services 17,921 24.4% 17,667 24.2%
Other Services 2,487 3.4% 2,431 3.3%
Public Administration 4,239 5.8% 4,137 5.7%
No industry detail available 24 0.0% 142 0.2%
Total 73,328   72,959  
Source: Labor Market Information Center, South Dakota Department of  Labor and Regulation, March 2010

To help answer the question about what types of jobs will be available in South Dakota, we asked the managers of DLR local offices about the summer jobs outlook for 2011. Here is what they said.

Local Perspective on Summer Jobs

Dan Thielsen, Manager

The summer employment picture looks good to strong with employers hiring summer help to cover for vacations and increased workloads. The continuing expansion by Molded Fiber Glass and the construction of the new Sanford Medical Center will benefit the summer job market. Northern Beef Packers' new beef processing plant may add to the summer employment pool, depending on how soon the company starts hiring. The plant, scheduled to open this summer or early fall, plans to employ 250 workers to start. They will hire a large number of full-time permanent employees with starting positions paying more than $12 per hour plus benefits. Other companies could lose employees to the expansions, thus creating more job opportunities.

Retail businesses will hire cashiers and stockers to work in greenhouses, for other outdoor work and to cover permanent employees' vacations. A construction boom in the Aberdeen area will address the housing need for the expected influx of workers. The Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department relies heavily on youth for positions at the Aquatic Center, Wylie Park and campground, the golf course and city parks, and also needs youth coaches and instructors for various classes. Restaurants and fast food businesses rely heavily on summer help and companies making hotel reservations hire a large number of summer employees, too.

Aberdeen hosted a community/area job fair in March and many employers looking for summer help attended. If you are just starting to look for summer employment now, you are too late for some of job openings. The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department and state summer internships required applicants to apply by early February for employment starting in May. The Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department begins hiring at the end of March and continues until all positions are filled. To take full advantage of all possible summer employment opportunities, individuals must start looking and applying at the beginning of the year. Many students may continue working at their current place of employment. Some employers allow some part-time workers to switch to full-time for the summer. Some summer jobs are still available and individuals can find them with persistence and hard work.

Jeff Kjenstad, Manager

For the Brookings area, youth employment for the summer will remain primarily the same. The City of Brookings will have 20 to 25 openings for summer work. We will have 20 to 40 summer work-study jobs on campus as well as openings for our normal state park positions. One business is looking for mostly college-age individuals for approximately 60 to 70 student positions. As usual, there will be approximately 20 to 50 openings in the retail and service industries.

Hot Springs
Joyce Farrell, Assistant Manager

Business representatives in the Southern Hills area (Custer, Fall River and Shannon counties) are cautiously optimistic and gearing up for a good tourist season. Gas prices and the economy in general will factor into the season's employment needs. The need for service industry employees, including workers for restaurants, motels and retail establishments, should develop. Cooks may be in short supply. Many establishments are opening earlier in the season and staying open later in the fall. Places like Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Mammoth Site, Angostura Recreation Area and Evans Plunge will need for regular seasonal employees.

Robin Wallum, Manager

Area summer jobs include greenhouse workers, road construction and building construction laborers and farm workers. The commercial agricultural industry hires people to do agricultural spraying. These jobs require a CDL with Hazardous Materials Endorsement.

The summer ends in Huron with the South Dakota State Fair, which is Sept. 1 to Sept. 5. The department superintendents first hire returning workers, then if there are still job openings the public may apply. A few state fair jobs, including data entry clerks and crew leaders, start earlier in the summer.

Many openings offered by city and state agencies have closed for this summer. To give you an idea of what kind of jobs were available as well as a general timetable for applying in future years, here are some of the openings that have already closed:

  • The Huron City Street Department and the Parks and Recreation Department had 83 openings, all with the closing date of March 25. Minimum age is 16 or 18, depending on the job.
  • The City of Miller was looking for summer employees in the Street Department and the Parks and Recreation Department. The closing date for these jobs was Feb. 25.
  • State openings: The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks had six seasonal park positions open at Lake Louise, near Miller. The listings closed Feb. 12. The South Dakota Department of Social Services had a family services specialist intern position that closed Feb. 22. The South Dakota Department of Transportation had positions for a field engineer intern that closed Feb. 22 and a field transportation aide that closed March 25.

Jim Baltzer, Manager

There are a number of summer openings in the Madison area, creating an optimistic outlook for the area's summer job market. Dan & Jerry's Greenhouse needed a small number of nursery workers beginning in April. They bring many people back from year to year, but they will need additional help. Anderson's Nurseries in Chester is also looking for nursery help.

There are various South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks seasonal openings at Lake Herman. The City of Madison is looking for seasonal maintenance workers. We anticipate additional openings for lifeguards, recreation aides and other summer workers. Historic Prairie Village has positions including gift shop attendants and maintenance assistants. As the weather improves, road construction and other construction jobs will also be available. Area farmers will again look for much needed seasonal help.

Madison Nursery and Landscape will hire a floral and greenhouse laborer. East River Electric Power has as graphic design summer internship available. Elm Locating has locating technician positions available in the Madison and Flandreau areas. The Madison Golf and Country Club is looking for cashiers, kitchen, wait staff and bartender help.

Jeanne Anderson, Manager

In polling the Mitchell area, we do not anticipate a significant increase in the number of summer hires this year. Many businesses in the local government, construction and service industries are offering positions to those who proved to be good workers last year. The economy will play a big part in whether businesses open new positions. Employers are still in the cautious mode and it appears they are keeping new summer hires at a minimum.

Marge Mertz, Manager

Our area cities with swimming pools hire summer employees. Mobridge hires seven to 10 employees for its swimming pool. At this point, we have not had any indication that retail businesses will be hiring extra summer help. Each year South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks posts summer positions for Mobridge, Selby, Gettysburg and Lemmon, but the closing date was in first part of February. The South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) in Mobridge hires three or four summer employees. DOT takes the applications, so the closing date is not definite.

Mark Anderson, Manager

State government, the largest employer in the Pierre area, offers a variety of internship opportunities during the summer. Go to the Bureau of Personnel's (BOP) website ( for specific information on these opportunities. The area parks and recreation departments offer seasonal positions including opportunities to assist with summer recreation camps for youth, work as lifeguards or maintain city parks. Pierre's tourism industry allows restaurants, resorts and lodges to offer many summer openings. Many construction companies also hire individuals over 18 years of age for the summer.

Pine Ridge
Billie Green, Employment Representative

There is no real change for the summer employment outlook. The Oglala Sioux Tribe, through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Program, handles summer youth. The Oglala Tribe's Tribal Employment Rights Organization (TERO) Program continues to operate; individuals can go there to find construction work. The outlook for road construction looks very good in this area this year.

Rapid City
Penny Kutz, Manager

The Rapid City area continues to be quite seasonal for youth employment. Youth ages 16 to 18 should have many of the same opportunities as last year. These positions will be primarily in the tourism, service and food industries. The food industry may have additional opportunities available this summer due to the opening of Famous Dave's and the Dacotah Steakhouse. A few retail-related jobs open on a seasonal basis, but those would be more the exception than the rule.

Youth willing to travel will find additional work opportunities outside of Rapid City proper. Employers outside the city have some difficulty finding older workers who will travel for seasonal positions, so they will hire 16- to 18-year-olds. A student who has already worked for an employer previously often has a leg up on other applicants. The employer does not have to extensively train or retrain the individual, and he or she has a proven track record with the company. The job market is tight enough that students cannot be too selective about the type of work they are willing to take. Students need to look early to find the best opportunities. Many seasonal employers will utilize foreign workers, which affects the number of summer job opportunities for youth.

Those in the 14- and 15-year-old category have fewer options due to restrictions on the hours they can work and the types of work assigned to them under youth employment laws. Additionally, usually enough 16- to 18-year-olds apply. The younger age group also faces transportation issues due to driving restrictions, so many of them have to rely on others to get to work. The best opportunities continue to be newspaper delivery, babysitting and domestic work. Some seasonal employers will hire 14- and 15-year-olds, but they may want students to demonstrate responsibility and dependability by asking for school and activity records in lieu of an employment record. Starting early is the key to finding employment and being persistent is critical to demonstrating interest in working for the employer.

Many students are involved in summer sports, various events or family vacations. Employers' flexibility to work around these events varies greatly, so it is hard to say what most employers are willing to accommodate. It may be another reason many employers have turned to foreign workers because employers do not need to work around these employees' schedules. Attitude and being publicly presentable (e.g., no facial piercing, visible tattoos and appropriate attire at the interview) increase an applicant's chances of being hired.

Youth also need to be aware of the heightened possibility of competition from adults who are unemployed due to layoffs or closures. Some of those would view full-time summer employment as a viable option while they make long-term career decisions or as a way to extend their unemployment benefits by working through the summer.

Sioux Falls
Gregory Johnson, Manager

Private Employers:
In past years, Wells Fargo Educational Financial had about 100 customer service and collections openings for students interested in full-time employment during the summer (with the possibility of continuing part-time during the school year), but those positions will not be available this year.

Public Employers:
The Sioux Falls School District has a few summer positions available, including summer school teachers and educational assistants, child nutrition staff, summer custodians, child activity helpers for the Kids Inc. program and summer clerical spots. Visit for more information.

The City of Sioux Falls' Parks and Recreation Department normally has more than 200 summer openings for park maintenance, lifeguards, playground supervisors, pool cashiers, pool managers, skate park supervisors, open gym supervisors, league supervisors and youth band staff. They will still be doing these tasks, but will likely not open them up due to returning workers and applications from last year. Visit for more information.

The State of South Dakota has summer intern positions (for college students who are of sophomore standing or above by the beginning of the internship), as well as seasonal positions with various agencies such as Game, Fish and Parks, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Tourism. The state normally accepts applications January through March. Go to the Bureau of Personnel's website ( for specific information on these opportunities.

Lisa Johnson, Manager

It is a good idea to start looking for summer positions early as college students who stay here during the summer have first choice of workplaces.

The City of Spearfish has summer openings for positions including groundskeepers and recreation assistants.

Business at gaming, tourist and hospitality establishments historically picks up toward the end of the school year. How many openings we will receive is not predictable, but usually employers are looking for wait staff, cooks, housekeepers, front desk personnel and gaming workers. Many of these positions have flexible schedules and the choice of part- or full-time employment, appealing qualities for college and high school students.

The Sturgis Rally will need bartenders, wait staff, bar backs and security personnel. We start to get those listings in late June and July. Please note, many of the vendors bring in their own help and have not used local workers the past few years.

This is also a great time to check out summer internships at and Also, check with Black Hills State University in Spearfish:

Daniel Hart, Manager

The City of Vermillion has summer openings, including park maintenance and street maintenance as well as jobs in other departments. Curry Seed in the Elk Point area will be hiring those 14 years and older for corn roguing. Clay County may have openings for seasonal weed sprayers.

Sue Bogen, Manager

Openings for parks and recreation jobs, such as lifeguards, etc., will be available again this year in most communities. Hospitality industry jobs for cleaners, servers, dishwashers, desk clerks and the like will depend on the tourism traffic and gas prices. At this time, no area manufacturers indicate any need for summer/seasonal workers. The temporary agencies supplied some workers for area factories last summer, and expect to do the same this year. As summer nears, there will be openings on building construction and highway construction crews for those who follow directions well and can work outside all day. Some of these positions will require heavy lifting or post-secondary training. There may be retail openings for cashiers and stockers. Retail employers give preference to workers who can stay on part time at least through the fall and Christmas seasons. Area campgrounds and state parks offer public sector summer jobs, but they have already solicited applications and the closing dates have passed.

Lynn Coonrod, Manager

Summer employment opportunities for youth in Winner and the surrounding communities of south central South Dakota are, as always, somewhat limited, but not impossible to find. Various state and federal government departments have seasonal positions as well as internships available. Full- and part-time openings will be available, including groundskeepers, swimming pool workers and other labor positions. Fast food businesses, convenience stores and ballparks will have openings for concession workers, cashiers, cooks and cleaners. Area farmers, ranchers and construction contractors offer summer work opportunities for youth. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe's Employment and Training Program will offer summer employment opportunities for Native American youth. Recruitment for many of these opportunities is already underway; those seeking summer employment are encouraged to begin their work search now.

Pending final approval, the Keystone XL oil pipeline construction project could bring additional opportunities to the area. Construction plans call for a camp for the construction crew in Tripp County. This camp will house approximately 600 workers and family members. We anticipate the need for maintenance workers, food service workers, cleaners and several other positions.

Dustin Larson, Manager

The City of Yankton openings include outside maintenance workers for the cemetery, the Auld-Brokaw Trail and the city parks. The city also has openings for instructors for color guard, gymnastics, tennis, track, youth sports, day camp, cooking, special needs, fabric arts or sewing and knitting, language arts, youth theater, woodcarving and clay, as well as softball umpires and volleyball referees. Openings at Fox Run Golf Course include grounds crew, golf shop staff and food and beverage personnel. Swimming pool jobs include summer pool manager, assistant pool manager, Learn to Swim coordinator, lifeguards (LGT and WSI/LGT) and cashiers. Public Works Department openings include street maintenance workers, solid waste collectors, engineering aides and airport maintenance workers. Water and Wastewater Utilities positions include maintenance workers.

Additionally, our Bomgaars store has seasonal positions for cashiers and greenhouse laborers. We also have an opening for a summer restoration technician at Floor Tec., a business that cleans up smoke and water damage. We generally have some summer openings with our local manufacturing plants, but as of this writing, we do not have anything listed. Our office had summer employment opportunities listed for South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Department, including positions such as outside maintenance (mowing, general landscaping, etc.), issuing park stickers and security, but application deadlines were in early February.

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Marcia Hultman, Secretary
123 W. Missouri Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501-4505
Tel. 605.773.3101
Fax. 605.773.6184