Department of Labor and Regulation

Title - Labor Market Information Center

Summer job opportunities

From the April 2012 South Dakota e-Labor Bulletin

Summer traditionally brings new job opportunities for South Dakotans, especially youth whose schedules are more flexible when school is not in session. Summer employment opportunities are a key component of workforce development, at least the development of that component of our future workforce just coming of workforce age.

Youth help fill an important summertime demand for workers among employers whose business peaks in the warmest months. Many employers use youth available in the summer labor market to help cover staffing needs created when year-round employees traditionally take more vacation time.

On the flip side, these summer job opportunities allow youth a way to explore career areas of interest, and establish a work history and reputation as a worker, and gain skills.

As the weather warms, the 16-24 age group (including older high school students, new high school graduates, those who failed to graduate high school and those in college) have traditionally filled jobs as waiters, waitresses, lifeguards, babysitters, landscapers, laborers, cashiers and other occupations that require relatively little formal education. Nationally, the employment rate for the 16-24 group has dropped steadily since 1989 when employment was at its peak. Since 1989, this group's employment percentage has dropped approximately 20 percentage points and has dropped below the 50 percent employment rate (48.8 percent). In fact, this group's employment percentage has dropped to the lowest rate on record in the data series, which began in 1948. While 2009 and 2010 were particularly bad for summer employment opportunities, the employment rate of youth fell just 0.1 percent during 2011, indicating the deterioration in job opportunities for youth began long before the recession. Jobs going to out-of-work older people, employer downsizing and outsourcing and immigration are contributing factors for the dropping employment rate among 16-24-year-olds.

This article's objective is to update statistics of summer employment for youth ages 16-24 and review U.S. and South Dakota younger worker trends. Statistics for 2012 will not be available until after the summer, but labor analysts expect the latest recession and the above reasons to continue to shrink the summer job pool. Also included in this article are local perspectives on summer youth job opportunities from the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation local office managers throughout the state.

U.S. Youth Labor Force

Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is responsible for tabulating 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 2011, the national labor force participation rate for the 16-24 year old age group was 59.5 percent, the lowest July rate on record. The July rate was down 1.0 percentage point from July 2010 and 18.0 percentage points below the peak for that month in 1989 (when the rate was 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 participation rate for youth peaked in 1989 at 77.5 percent. July is the month used by the BLS to determine summer employment levels because it is the peak summer month for employment. The 59.5 percent participation rate in 2011 represents the 14th time in the past 16 years the participation rate has declined over the previous year. The only two increases were in successive years, 2006 and 2007.

The declining national participation rate from the peak year in 1989 can probably be explained by the increase in school enrollment in July, indicating in previous years youth enrolled in school were much less likely to be in the labor market. Other key factors include the increasing size of this age group, the softness of the labor market for the past few years and the restrictions applied to anyone under 18 years of age in jobs considered hazardous by the U.S. Secretary of Labor. The recent recession and the factors explained above have also contributed greatly to the decline.

Of the 23 million individuals in the labor force, 18.6 million youth were actively employed in July 2011, about the same as last year. Nationally, young workers are concentrated in two industries. About 26 percent of employed youth worked in the leisure and hospitality industry (including fast-food restaurants), with 21 percent in retail sales.

U.S. Young Workers by Industry

United States Workers Ages 16-24 by Industry
2010 Percent of Total 2011 Percent of Total
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting 372 2.0% 382 2.0%
Mining 63 0.3% 76 0.4%
Construction 819 4.4% 744 4.0%
Manufacturing 1,015 5.5% 1,108 5.9%
Wholesale Trade 297 1.6% 342 1.8%
Retail Trade 3,659 19.7% 3,869 20.7%
Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities 355 1.9% 360 1.9%
Information 361 1.9% 329 1.7%
Financial Activities 794 4.3% 716 3.8%
Professional and Business Services 1,395 7.5% 1,326 7.5%
Educational and Health Services 2,169 11.7% 1,936 10.4%
Leisure and Hospitality 4,595 24.8% 4,770 25.6%
Other Services 789 4.3% 898 4.8%
Government 1,433 7.7% 1,382 7.4%
Self Employed and Unpaid Family Workers 447 2.4% 397 2.1%
Total 18,564 100.0% 18,632 100.0%
Source: Current Population Survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; compiled by the Labor Market Information Center, South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation.

In addition to the employed youth, there were approximately 4.1 million youth unemployed in July of 2011, down from 4.4 million in July 2010. This means those youth were actively looking for work and were available to take a job. The youth unemployment rate decreased over the year to 18.1 percent in July 2011, a 1.0 percent decrease from 2010.

South Dakota Youth Worker Trends

Since the CPS publishes only annual labor force data for South Dakota youth 16-24 years old, other sources of data have to be used to determine the level of youth job seekers for the summer months. Using quarterly administrative data on workers covered by unemployment insurance, it is possible to estimate the number of younger workers taking summer jobs. Since the third quarter numbers represent the end of summer and the highest worker levels for the year and the first quarter represents the lowest worker levels, the difference between the two is a good indicator of summer job levels.

The following chart shows the last 10 years of worker levels for youth age 16-24. Employment showed steady but moderate gains in the previous three years before 2007. In 2007 and 2008, summer employment numbers took a noticeable decrease. However, in 2009 a small increase was attained, followed by a very good increase in 2010. These past decreases could be caused by an unstable economy and high gas prices impacting tourism-reliant businesses where many youth work. Although these still existed in 2010, the Federal Stimulus programs were started in 2009 and continued through 2010, giving South Dakota youth employment a boost. In 2011, youth worker levels dropped.

South Dakota
Workers Ages 16-24
with Summer Jobs

South Dakota Youth Worker Industry Distribution

The industry distribution of South Dakota's young workers pretty much mirrors that of the nation, with the leisure and hospitality industry sector (which includes the arts, entertainment and recreation, and accommodation and food services subsectors) employing the highest number of youth during the summer months.

Although South Dakota worker data by age is not available on a monthly basis, LMIC staff were able to determine the age group and industry percentages using quarterly administrative data on workers covered by the South Dakota Unemployment Insurance program.

The following chart shows the number and distribution of South Dakota wage and salaried workers age 16-24 by each industry for the third quarters of 2010 and 2011. South Dakota third quarter 2011 summer employment decreased in 10 of the 15 industries. Nationally, seven of the 15 industries lost summer employment in 2011. As mentioned earlier, this is likely due to the end of the Federal Stimulus programs.

South Dakota Young Workers by Industry

South Dakota Workers Ages 16-24 by Industry
2010 Percent of Total 2011 Percent of Total
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting 224 1.0% 248 1.3%
Mining 67 0.3% 74 0.4%
Construction 2,182 9.5% 2,171 11.2%
Manufacturing 1,242 5.4% 1,339 6.9%
Wholesale Trade 583 2.6% 635 3.3%
Retail Trade 2,984 13.0% 2,241 11.6%
Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities 278 1.2% 248 1.2%
Information 168 0.7% 111 0.6%
Financial Activities 278 1.2% 331 1.7%
Professional and Business Services 1,730 7.6% 1,557 8.0%
Educational and Health Services 3,012 13.2% 1,974 10.2%
Leisure and Hospitality 6,693 29.2% 5,336 27.5%
Other Services 566 2.5% 545 2.8%
Government 2,742 12.0% 2,475 12.8%
Self Employed and Unpaid Family Workers 142 0.6% 90 0.5%
Total 22,891 100.0% 19,375 100.0%
Source: Current Population Survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; compiled by the Labor Market Information Center, South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation.

To help answer the question about the types of jobs that will be available this summer in South Dakota, we polled the managers of the Department of Labor and Regulation local offices. Here is what they had to say about summer jobs in 2012.

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Local Perspective on Summer Jobs

(Dan Thielsen)

The summer employment picture looks fairly strong for this year, with employers hiring summer help to help cover for vacations and increased workloads. The summer job market will be assisted by the continuing expansion at Molded Fiber Glass, the new Sanford Hospital and the Northern Beef Packers Company plant opening by early summer. Other companies could lose employees to the expansions, thus creating other job opportunities for summer help. The retail businesses are hiring cashiers, sales clerks and stockers to work in green houses, cover permanent employee's summer vacations and for other outdoor work. Many area factories are planning on hiring summer help with production peaks and to cover vacations of permanent staff. There is a construction boom in the Aberdeen area, which is predicted to continue for the building of housing for the expected influx of workers for the expansions. The Aberdeen city parks department relies heavily on youth for positions at the new aquatic center and swimming pool, Wylie Park and campground, golf course, parks and for other jobs such as youth coaches and instructors for various classes. Restaurants and fast food businesses also rely heavily on summer help to cover their employment needs. Companies making motel reservations hire a large number of summer employees. Aberdeen hosted a community job fair in March of this year, and many employers looking for summer help were in attendance.

(Jeff Kjenstad)

For the Brookings area, youth employment for the summer will remain much the same as past years. The City of Brookings will have 25-35 openings for summer work. There will be about 20 summer work study jobs on campus at South Dakota State University, and there will be normal summer job opportunities at area state parks. The retail industry will be steady, with 50 or so openings.

(Robin Wallum)

The Huron city street department and the parks and recreation department had a combined total of 94 job openings listed with our office, all with a closing date of March 23. Minimum age for some of these jobs is 16 and 18 for others. Most pay $7.50 an hour.

The City of Miller also had 17 openings listed with our office, seeking summer employees for the park, ballpark, street and pool. The closing date for these jobs was February 24.

The Wessington Springs Country Club is looking for a groundskeeper to work April to October and a club house manager to work from April to September.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks had two seasonal park positions open at Lake Louise, which is located near Miller.

Beadle Conservation District is looking for one supervisor, six fabric crew members and six tree planters this spring.

Other summer jobs that are starting to come in include greenhouse workers paying $7.75 an hour. Building and road construction laborers will likely be listed soon. We will also get job orders from the commercial agricultural industry looking for people to do agricultural spraying. These jobs require a commercial driver's license with the hazardous materials endorsement.

As is the tradition in Huron, the summer comes to a close with the South Dakota State Fair, which will be held from Thursday, August 30 to Labor Day, September 3. The department superintendents hire returning workers first, then if there are still job openings the public can apply.

(Jim Baltzer)

There are various summer positions available in the Madison area for 2012. Dan and Jerry's Greenhouse needs nursery workers, as does Anderson's Nursery. The Department of Game, Fish and Parks at Lake Herman hires a number of workers each year to operate the park and campground. The City of Madison hires lifeguards, recreation aides and summer maintenance workers. Area farmers may be looking for summer help soon. Prairie Village needs gift shop clerks and laborers. Road construction and other construction jobs should start to open soon. ELM Locating has technician jobs in the Madison and Flandreau areas. U.S. Fish and Wildlife needs an on-call firefighter. East River Electric will hire a graphic arts intern. Many restaurants are starting to advertise for summer help. The need for seasonal truck drivers has also begun. Local lodging establishments are starting to recruit for summer help as well.

(Devon Bartscher)

Local business is reporting steady to increased need for summer employment based on a strong local economy. Construction, landscaping and seasonal agriculture employers are reporting increased need for summer help. Small residential construction companies seem to have full schedules of projects lined up for spring and summer. Agriculture has been strong in the Mitchell area again this year, so job orders are increasing for seasonal applicators and farm workers. Retail business is strong and steady. Menards is a good gage of the local retail economy and plans to bring 40 students onboard this summer.

Tourism-related sales are predicted to be steady in the area but dependent on gas prices. We anticipate about the same number of job openings as last year in fast food restaurants. Among more specialty businesses and internship opportunities, things look steady, with Game, Fish and Parks and the Department of Transportation having steady need for interns. Local private businesses who hire interns report the same to increased need as last year. Manufacturing is expected to have a “bang up” year as forecasted by local economy and contracts.

(Marge Mertz)

The Department of Game, Fish and Parks position openings for the summer have already closed. They would, however, reopen them should they not fill all of the positions. The Department of Transportation in Mobridge will be hiring field transportation aides in Mobridge, Isabel, McIntosh, Herreid and Selby. These positions require a seasonal application from the Department of Labor and Regulation with a closing date of March 16. The cities in our area with swimming pools hire summer help to operate pools, with the Mobridge pool employing from seven to 10 employees. At this point we have not had any indication that retail businesses will be hiring extra help for the summer in Mobridge or in the surrounding areas. We always encourage those looking for summer work to go directly to the businesses they would like to work at, as some do not list the summer help they are seeking.

Northeast Area (Watertown, Sisseton and Milbank)
(Sue Bogen)

Public sector summer jobs will be available at campgrounds and state parks, but applications have already been solicited and the closing dates have passed. Openings for park and recreation jobs, lifeguards, etc. will be available again this year in most communities in the service area. Hospitality jobs for cleaners, servers, dishwashers, desk clerks and the like will depend on the tourism traffic and gas prices. Many area manufacturers currently have openings, and their success (or lack of success) in filling these positions with permanent workers will affect a need for summer/seasonal workers. The temporary help agencies supplied some workers for area factories last summer and expect to do the same this year. As the weather warms up, there will be openings for landscape laborers and on both building construction and highway construction crews for those who can work outside all day and follow directions well. They prefer to hire workers who can stay through the entire season, which could last all fall. Some of these positions require heavy lifting or post-secondary training, but not all. There are always some retail openings in cashiering or stocking, again with preference given to those workers who can stay on part-time at least through the fall and Christmas seasons. Local farmers need seasonal workers, preferably with an agriculture background, to help with tasks from planting through harvest, and projects like fixing fence and picking rocks. Co-ops and grain elevators will be looking for seasonal sprayers and equipment operators, most of which need some type of license or certification. Finally, combine crews and grain bin builders will need people with appropriate experience and a willingness to be away from home for weeks at a time.

(Mark Anderson)

Anyone over 18 should be able to secure summer employment in the Pierre area.
State internships abound, along with Game, Fish and Parks seasonal positions. We expect the highest number in history of seasonal City and construction labor positions due to expected flood clean-up and repair projects. With the lowest unemployment rate in the state, employers are forced to hire individuals they normally would not in order to meet their workforce needs.
Summer positions range in pay from $8 to $14 per hour.

Pine Ridge
(Billie Green)

Jobs in building and road construction should be about average in number this summer across the reservation. Fewer road construction jobs than last year are expected since a majority of the major projects were completed last fall. No change from last year is expected in seasonal hiring for governmental programs or in the private sector/tourist industry.

Rapid City
(Penny Kuntz)

Youth ages 16-18 should have many of the same opportunities as last year for employment. The Rapid City area continues to be quite seasonal in its employment of youth, so many of the same types of jobs will be available. These positions will be primarily in the tourism, service and food industries. The food and hospitality industry may have additional opportunities available due to the opening of Texas Roadhouse, Longhorn Steakhouse, Fuji Steakhouse and Cambria Suites to name a few. A few retail opportunities may also be available with the opening of Rue 21 and a second Wal-Mart. In addition, land around the new Wal-Mart store is being developed to include more retailers, fast food and full service restaurants. Construction for these businesses will be finished in May or June 2012, with several shops planning to open when Wal-Mart opens in August.

If students are willing to travel outside of Rapid City, there are more opportunities for work. Businesses have some difficulty finding older workers willing to travel for seasonal positions, so those employers will hire 16-18 year olds. Students who have worked for seasonal employers in previous years will often have a leg up on being re-hired by the same employer, as they do not have to be extensively trained or retrained. Also, the employee will have a track record with that employer and will know the kind of employee being hired, as opposed to a “new” hire. 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 be looking early to find the best opportunities for the type of employment they are willing to do. Many of the seasonal employers utilize foreign workers, which impacts the number of summer job opportunities for youth.

As far as 14 and 15 year olds, the outlook will always have fewer options due to this age group being restricted in the number of hours and which hours they can work as well as the types of work that can be assigned them under the child labor laws. Additionally, there are often enough 16-18 year olds to hire for the seasonal jobs. Transportation is another issue for this younger age group, as they often have to rely upon others to get to work due to the restrictions on what times of day they are legally able to drive. Best opportunities for this age group still remain newspaper delivery, babysitting and domestic work. There are some seasonal employers that will hire from the 14-15 age group, but students may be asked to demonstrate they are responsible and dependable by sharing their school and activity records in lieu of employment records. 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. Employer flexibility to work around these events is varied. It may be another reason many employers have turned to foreign workers, as they are willing to work when the employer needs them. In either of the above age groups, attitude and being public presentable (i.e. no facial piercings, visible tattoos and appropriate attire at the interview) continues to increase an applicant's chances of getting hired.

Another factor that youth should be aware of is the heightened possibility of competition for summer positions from adults who have been unemployed due to layoffs and/or closures. Some of those would view full-time summer employment as a viable option for income 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)

There will be summer job opportunities with seasonal employers such as fireworks stores, construction companies, amusement parks, golf courses, nurseries and garden centers, seasonal restaurants, etc. There will also be opportunities with year-round businesses that hire additional workers for heightened summer business, such as landscape and lawn care companies, restaurants, retail stores, farmers, etc.

Wells Fargo Educational Financial will utilize 160 summer staff in 2012. These positions are titled “Inbound Sales Specialist 1” and are responsible for taking inbound calls from customers requesting student loans. Of the 160, they have already hired approximately 45.

Among area public employers, the Sioux Falls School District has a few openings available, such as summer school teachers and educational assistants, child nutrition staff, summer custodians, clerical and child activity helpers for the Kids, Inc. program. The City of Sioux Falls normally has at least 250 summer openings for park maintenance, lifeguards, playground supervisors, pool cashiers, pool managers, skate park supervisors, open gym supervisors, league supervisors and youth band staff. The number of openings available to new employees will depend on how many workers return from last summer.

Some executive intern positions (summer positions for students with minimum of sophomore standing at a college or technical school) are available with the State of South Dakota.
Seasonal positions are also available with various state agencies such as the Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Tourism, and Game, Fish and Parks.

Southern Hills Area
(Joyce Farrell)

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 general economics will be a factor.) There should be a need for workers such as restaurant workers, motel workers, and retail clerks. Specifically, cooks are traditionally in short supply. Many of the establishments are opening earlier in the season and remaining open later into the fall season. There will be the need for the regular seasonal employees at such institutions as Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park Resort Company, Mammoth Site, Angostura Recreation Area and Evans Plunge.

Northern Hills
(Lisa Johnson)

Even though it was cold and snowy, it is a good idea to look for summer job opportunities early, as college students who stay here over the summer have first choice on where they want to work. Summer job seekers are encouraged to check out internships at and and to check with Black Hills State University in Spearfish.

The cities of Spearfish, Sturgis, Lead-Deadwood and Belle Fourche start hiring for summer workers in February. Job seekers are encouraged to get applications in early, as these positions will start in May and run through September.

Business in the gaming and tourism/hospitality industries historically picks up toward the end of the school year. Although it is not possible to anticipate the exact number of openings that will be listed, businesses usually look for wait staff, cooks, housekeepers, front desk personnel, retail and gaming workers. These are good summer positions for college and high school students. Many of these have flexible schedules and could be full- or part time.

The Sturgis Rally will again need bartenders, wait staff, bar backs and security personnel. Those openings start being listed in late June and July. The trend has shifted over the last few years, with many of the vendors bringing in their own help rather than using local workers.

(Daniel Hart)

Currently in Clay and Union counties, there are 52 summer seasonal openings listed with the City of Vermillion and five with the City of Elk Point. Clover Leaf Farms in Elk Point generally hires between 30 to 50 youth to do corn rouging. Normally when University of South Dakota students leave for the summer there are numerous service industry openings such as cashiers, wait staff, cooks, servers, dishwashers, bartenders and grocery clerks. As soon as weather permits, there will be construction job openings listed for summer work.

(Lynn Coonrod)

As in past years, summer employment opportunities for youth in south central South Dakota will be 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 with cities and towns throughout the area in various occupations including groundskeepers, swimming pool workers and various laboring positions. Openings for concession workers, cashiers, cooks and cleaners will be available at fast food businesses, convenience stores and ballparks. Construction contractors as well as area farmers and ranchers will offer additional summer employment opportunities.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe's Employment and Training Program will offer summer employment opportunities for the Native American youth of the area. Recruitment for most of these opportunities has already begun, so those seeking summer employment are encouraged to begin their work search now.

(Dustin Larsen)

The State of South Dakota has its usual job openings at Lewis and Clark Recreation Area. They hire for positions of rangers, gate attendants and maintenance work.

The City of Yankton also has some positions listed, including maintenance workers for the cemetery, parks and recreation programs, and the Auld-Brokaw Trail; instructors for color guard, gymnastics, tennis and track; youth sport officials (softball umpires and volleyball referees); day camp leaders; cooks for those preparing foods for special needs and instructors for fabric arts, sewing, knitting, language arts, youth theater, wood carving and clay art.

The Fox Run golf course has openings for grounds crew, golf shop staff and food and beverage servers. The swimming pool has openings listed for a manager and assistant manager, a learn-to-swim coordinator, instructors/lifeguards and cashiers.

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