Minnesota keeps adding jobs, but there aren’t enough workers to fill them all

By: - September 19, 2023 3:28 pm

The jobs expected to grow the most in the next 10 years are also some of the lowest-paid. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Minnesota jobs have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, but employers are struggling to fill open positions.

The state gained 4,400 jobs from July to August, reaching numbers not seen since November 2019, according to a release from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Meanwhile, Minnesota’s labor force participation rate — the number of working-age people who are employed or looking for work — held steady at 68.5%, about six percentage points higher than the national average.

For every unemployed person in Minnesota, there are two open jobs, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

That means employers are struggling to fill open positions, and demographic trends have company leaders worried that the problem will continue to worsen. 

A shrinking portion of Minnesota’s population is working-age, according to a report released Monday by data analytics firms, Presbyterian Homes and Services and Minnesota Business Partnership, a trade group representing Minnesota’s biggest companies.

And, the number of people moving out of Minnesota is outpacing migration into the state. 

There’s also a growing disconnect between the characteristics of Minnesota’s workforce and the jobs that are in-demand. Most Minnesotans have an education beyond high school, but the jobs that are projected to be in highest demand, like personal care assistants and retail workers, require only a high school diploma.

Currently, 28% of Minnesotans 25 and older have no higher education, while 45% of the labor demand is for jobs that only require a high school diploma, according to the report. And while 16% of Minnesota adults have an advanced degree, only 4% of open jobs require that level of education.

The jobs projected to be in highest demand over the next 10 years are also some of the lowest-paid.

The report points to several ways to bring people into the workforce and keep them there. Increased productivity via automation and digitization, flexibility and accommodations, immigration and training could help solve the problem.

An idea for attracting workers that is notably absent from the report: Raising wages.

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Madison McVan
Madison McVan

Madison McVan is a Report for America corps member who covers economic mobility for Minnesota Reformer. She previously covered agriculture for Investigate Midwest after graduating from the University of Missouri in 2020 with degrees in Journalism and Latin American studies.