SAUK RAPIDS -- With the school year ending, a lot of teens around Minnesota will be looking to enter the workforce. The Sauk Rapids-Rice DECA program recently held a job fair at the high school to help their classmates connect with employers around the St. Cloud metro area.

Grace Loidolt just finished her junior year and helped organize the event. She says they found that teens are looking for both summer jobs and potential future careers.

I feel like it's kind of a little bit of both, which is why we wanted to provide jobs for people who are looking for potential careers or just a summer job.  That's why we had such a wide variety.  I know a lot of the people that I've talked to, they've set up jobs for the summer, but it might be something they want to continue in the future, which I thought was really cool.

The job fair at the Sauk Rapids-Rice high school had 61 employers attend.

Emma Miller also just finished her junior year and helped organize the event. She says, based on the feedback they've received since the job fair, there should be a lot of new hires in the coming weeks.

So far looking at our survey, we've had about 129 connections made between students and employers. That includes interviews and some of our students have gotten hired.  I've talked to a few students too that have come up to us and told us they have an interview set up with a company from the job fair.

Miller says the companies that she spoke to say they plan to be flexible with their employee students in the fall when they have to go back to school, so they can retain them on their payroll.

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The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development says Minnesota teens earned a median hourly wage of nearly $13 an hour and worked about 27 hours a week during the second quarter of 2021, the latest time period that data was available.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development says, as of April, the youth unemployment rate in Minnesota was 6.5 percent, one of the lowest on record dating back to when such data first started being tracked in 2001. The teen labor force participating rate is at 52 percent, which means there is still some capacity to draw more teens into the labor force.

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