Minnesota teens are working less, while older Minnesotans are working more. That’s an alarming trend, according to Center of the American Experiment economist John Phelan.
Phelan notes in a recent article that the labor force participation rate for Minnesotans aged 16 to 19 fell 19.1 percentage points between 1999 and 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the participation rate increased by 9.6 percent among Minnesotans aged 55 to 64 between the same years.
“Not all youth absolutely need jobs, so they’re very sensitive to market conditions,” Oriane Casale, assistant director of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s labor market information office told MinnPost.
“Basically, if they see their friends working and they can easily find a job, then they’ll work. Otherwise, they might not even look for a job,” she added.
Phelan points out that these trends are expected to continue, according to the Minnesota State Demographic Center’s predictions. They suggest that the participation rate for those aged 16 to 19 is forecast to drop by another nine percent between 2020 and 2045, but will increase for all age groups above 45.
“This doesn’t just pose a problem for Minnesota by exacerbating the participation rate decline stemming from an aging population,” Phelan writes. “It is also a problem for the younger workers themselves.”
“It is rare that you will make a living doing what you do in your very first job. The pizza making skills I picked up in my first job have long rusted away,” he continues. “But the ‘soft skills’ you pick up in that first job … will stand you in good stead throughout your working life. The longer Minnesotan workers leave it to start accumulating these skills, the bigger disadvantage they will find themselves at.”
Overall, Minnesota had the third highest labor force participation rate in 2018 at 69.7 percent, but it’s expected to drop to 64.6 percent by 2035.
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