Competition increasing for state fair jobs

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A young worker serves up a funnel cake at the Minnesota State Fair.
A young man serves up a funnel cake at the Minnesota State Fair. A traditional job for teens, fair officials say competition for fair jobs is increasing. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair.
According to a press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the youth – 14-24 year olds -- employment rate for July 2010 was 48.9 percent, the lowest it’s been since the bureau started tracking teen employment in 1948.

Ben Ihlenfeldt, 16, said he thought working at the Minnesota State Fair would be “a fun way to earn some money.”

He filled out an online application essentially stating that he would take any job they would offer him. When he heard from them later, they said that there were many applicants and only so many jobs available, and he hadn’t been selected.

Brienna Schuette, the marketing and communications manager at the fair, said there’s much more competition for jobs lately. She said that more people are returning to jobs they’ve had in previous summers, and they are more likely to be hired than someone who has never worked there before.

Teens like Ben are discovering that it’s getting harder than ever to find work. According to a press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the youth — 14-24 year olds — employment rate for July 2010 was 48.9 percent, the lowest it’s been since the bureau started tracking teen employment in 1948. “The month of July typically is the summertime peak in youth employment,” according to the press release.

Ihlenfeldt also applied for jobs at Target, Menards, and a summer camp at his church, but hasn’t had any luck finding a job.

Some researchers are saying that the high unemployment rate is forcing older adults to fill jobs that would normally be occupied by teens, like working at the state fair.

Bill Launderville, 53, worked at a game booth on the Midway because he is unemployed and it’s one of the only places that’s hiring. He said that he’s getting paid minimum wage, but he’s having fun.

Despite the bleak employment statistics, there are plenty of young people who have been able to find work at the fair this year.

Jennifer Strawberry, 21, had her first job at the fair when she was 13. She now works at a booth selling deep-fried Twinkies. “It’s a nice summer job,” she said.

Alicia Kelley, 19, has been working at the Oven Fresh Brownies stand for three summers. She didn’t have trouble getting a job there because she had a connection at the fair.

Kelley said she loves working at the fair, and wanted a job there because she wanted to come every day to see all of the different, interesting things the fair has to offer.

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