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Job Vacancy Survey Findings

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During fourth quarter 2021, employers reported a total of 214,071 vacancies, up 68% percent from fourth quarter 2020 (see Figure 1). This is the highest number of job vacancies ever reported in the state, surpassing the record set in second quarter 2021, and showing continued strong demand for workers across Minnesota.

Figure 1. Minnesota Job Vacancies and Unemployed, Fourth Quarter 2001 to 2021

While vacancies continue to increase, the number of unemployed workers continued to decline as workers return to jobs. With less than 93,000 unemployed workers statewide in fourth quarter 2021, there were now just 0.4 unemployed persons for each vacancy, meaning that there were more than twice as many open positions as unemployed individuals in Minnesota. This is the lowest ratio on record and well down from one year ago when there were 1.1 unemployed persons for each vacancy. The current rate suggests that the labor market is extremely tight as employers attempt to staff up after the COVID-19 recession. It is likely that many employers are finding it difficult to fill open positions.

These 214,071 vacancies translate into a job vacancy rate of 8.2%, or 8.2 job openings for every 100 filled jobs in the state. This rate is up from 4.5% one year ago and is also the highest rate ever posted (see Table 1).

  Number of Job Vacancies Number of Vacancies per 100 Jobs Number of Unemployed Workers Number of Unemployed per Vacancy
4th Quarter 2021 214,071 8.2% 92,924 0.4
2nd Quarter 2021 205,714 8.0% 123,617 0.6
4th Quarter 2020 127,314 4.5% 139,978 1.1
2nd Quarter 2020 111,753 4.0% 299,579 2.7
4th Quarter 2019 127,550 4.6% 92,692 0.7
2nd Quarter 2019 146,513 5.3% 93,037 0.6
4th Quarter 2018 136,917 4.9% 78,905 0.6
2nd Quarter 2018 142,282 5.2% 88,517 0.6
4th Quarter 2017 113,774 4.2% 87,578 0.8
2nd Quarter 2017 122,929 4.5% 108,623 0.9
4th Quarter 2016 97,374 3.6% 109,090 1.1
2nd Quarter 2016 97,580 3.6% 112,725 1.2
4th Quarter 2015 96,114 3.6% 96,263 1.0
2nd Quarter 2015 97,997 3.7% 114,619 1.2
4th Quarter 2014 88,927 3.4% 96,358 1.1
2nd Quarter 2014 84,696 3.3% 165,184 2.0
4th Quarter 2013 60,397 2.3% 129,253 2.1
2nd Quarter 2013 72,569 2.8% 154,701 2.1
4th Quarter 2012 58,864 2.3% 155,506 2.6
2nd Quarter 2012 62,949 2.5% 162,050 2.6
4th Quarter 2011 49,890 2.0% 161,292 3.2
2nd Quarter 2011 54,670 2.2% 198,202 3.6
4th Quarter 2010 33,804 1.4% 194,897 5.8
2nd Quarter 2010 41,397 1.6% 200,037 4.8
4th Quarter 2009 25,885 1.0% 212,282 8.2
2nd Quarter 2009 31,358 1.2% 246,687 7.9
4th Quarter 2008 31,066 1.2% 170,252 5.5
2nd Quarter 2008 51,722 2.0% 147,511 2.9
4th Quarter 2007 50,594 1.9% 125,999 2.5
2nd Quarter 2007 62,569 2.4% 131,891 2.1
4th Quarter 2006 55,736 2.1% 113,744 2.0
2nd Quarter 2006 64,958 2.5% 109,667 1.7
4th Quarter 2005 61,554 2.4% 110,911 1.8
2nd Quarter 2005 59,513 2.3% 116,510 2.0
4th Quarter 2004 51,137 2.0% 115,407 2.3
2nd Quarter 2004 66,543 2.6% 130,301 2.0
4th Quarter 2003 50,439 2.0% 130,390 2.6
2nd Quarter 2003 53,246 2.1% 140,103 2.6
4th Quarter 2002 56,166 2.2% 114,581 2.0
2nd Quarter 2002 69,715 2.8% 132,274 1.9
4th Quarter 2001 79,793 3.1% 115,216 1.4
2nd Quarter 2001 115,072 4.5% 105,326 0.9

Regional Findings

Regionally, 126,916 or 59.2% of all job vacancies were located in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, while the remaining 87,155 vacancies, or 40.8%, were located in Greater Minnesota during fourth quarter 2021. Compared to one year ago, the number of job vacancies increased by 67.6% in the Twin Cities and climbed 69% in Greater Minnesota.

As in past years, the job vacancy rate was higher in Greater Minnesota (8.5%) than in the Twin Cities (7.8%), with both exhibiting an extremely tight labor markets. And just like the state overall, both the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota have a ratio of less than 0.5 unemployed persons to every one job vacancy.

Findings by Industry, Occupation & Size

Statewide, the Health Care & Social Assistance industry had the most job vacancies with more than 52,000 openings, followed by Retail Trade with just under 40,000 vacancies, Accommodation & Food Services with more than 31,500 postings, and Manufacturing with 16,500 vacancies. Combined, those four industries account for two-thirds of the total openings in the state (see Figure 2).

Other Services had the highest share of vacancies compared to the overall size of the industry. With a 20.7% vacancy rate in this industry, employers were looking to fill one job for every five existing jobs as they continued to rebuild after the COVID-19 recession. Accommodations & Food Services had a 19% vacancy rate followed by Retail Trade at 13.9% and Health Care & Social Assistance at 10.8%. Only one other industry, Real Estate & Rental & Leasing, at 8.3%, had a higher vacancy rate than the statewide average of 8.2%.

Figure 2a. Minnesota Job Vacancies and Vacancy Rates by Industry Sector

Nineteen of the 20 industries saw an increase in job vacancies over the year, with the exception being Wholesale Trade, which hit a record high in fourth quarter 2020 in response to the pandemic. Six industries saw their vacancy counts more than double over the year, led by a 331% increase in Other Services, which hit a new record high of 15,050 vacancies. It was one of five industries that set a new peak, also including Manufacturing, Retail Trade, Finance & Insurance, and most notably, Health Care & Social Assistance. With 52,340 vacancies, Health Care & Social Assistance accounted for nearly one-quarter of total openings in the state, and more than the combined total of 14 other industries.


By occupational group, Food Preparation & Serving had the most job vacancies with nearly 33,000 postings and a vacancy rate of 16.7%, followed by Sales & Related, with 26,800 vacancies and a vacancy rate of 10.9%, Healthcare Practitioners & Technical, 19,750 openings and a vacancy rate of 10.5%, Healthcare Support, with 18,200 openings and vacancy rate of 11.3% and Transportation & Material Moving, with 16,650 openings and a vacancy rate of 8.0%.

Like industries, all but one occupational group saw an increase compared to fourth quarter 2020, with Protective Service occupations seeing a 15% decline. Among those with increases, Farming, Fishing & Forestry, Personal Care & Service, and Business & Financial Operations occupations all increased more than 225% over the year, while Food Prep & Serving, Architecture & Engineering, Life, Physical & Social Science, and Legal occupations all more than doubling.

Figure 2b. Minnesota Job Vacancies and Vacancy Rates by Occupational Sector

The detailed occupations with the most job vacancies during fourth quarter 2021 were Retail Salespersons with 10,232 vacancies and a vacancy rate of 14.2%, Fast Food and Counter Workers with 9,984 vacancies and a vacancy rate of 17.7%, Personal Care Aides with 7,281 vacancies (vacancy rate not available), First-Line Supervisors of Food Service Workers with 6,961 vacancies and a vacancy rate of 47%, Cashiers with 6,713 vacancies and a vacancy rate of 10.9%, Nursing Assistants with 5,878 vacancies and a vacancy rate of 23.2%, First-line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers with 5,870 vacancies and a vacancy rate of 33.6%, Registered Nurses with 5,587 vacancies and a vacancy rate of 8.1%, Customer Service Representatives with 3,575 vacancies and a vacancy rate or 7.2% and Licensed Practical Nurses with 3,547 vacancies and a vacancy rate of 25.5%.

Firm Size

By size, small firms with 1 to 9 employees had the highest job vacancy rate at 16.9%, followed by medium-small firms with 10-49 employees, at 12.2%. The largest firms, those with 250 or more employees, had the lowest vacancy rate at 4.3%. These largest firms also had the highest median wage offer ($24.44 per hour).

The largest numeric increase in vacancies over the year was for small firms, which reported an additional 33,640 openings in 2021 compared to 2020, followed by very small employers, which added 21,444 vacancies. Medium sized firms, from 50 to 249 employees, saw the slowest increase and the smallest numeric increase.

Characteristics of Job Vacancies

Along with the number of vacancies, employers also report on the characteristics of their job vacancies. Some key characteristics of fourth quarter 2021 Minnesota job vacancies are as follows:

  • Thirty percent are for part-time employment. Part-time is defined as fewer than 35 hours per week.
  • The percent part-time continues to decline as employers look to better utilize their workforces, dropping from just over 40% as recently as fourth quarter 2017.
  • This is the lowest percent part-time in the history of the Job Vacancy Survey, going back to 2001.
  • Six percent are for temporary or seasonal work. This is also historically low as employers look to offer more permanent positions to attract workers.
  • Thirty-two percent require some level of post-secondary education or training beyond a high school diploma. This means the other two-thirds of vacancies require no education beyond a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • The percent of job openings requiring post-secondary education has been declining due to the tight labor market, as employers look to expand their candidate pool.
  • Fifty percent require one or more years of work experience.
  • In contrast, the percent of vacancies requiring work experience has been increasing over time.

Trends in Wage Offers

The median (50th percentile) wage offer for all job vacancies is $18.09 per hour. This is easily the highest median wage offer in the history of the Job Vacancy Survey, reflecting both employers offering higher starting wages and also a changing mix of available occupations, with jobs shifting toward higher wage industries. As Figure 3 illustrates, wage offers are highly correlated with experience and education requirements.

Figure 3. Minnesota Job Vacancies by Education and Experience Required with Wage Offers

Some of the most notable changes in the number of vacancies and wage offers are listed here:

  • The median wage offer is up 9.0% from one year ago. This compares to 6.7% inflation rate during the same time period (based on the Consumer Price Index).
  • Over the year, median wage offers rose for 18 of the 22 main occupational groups, including 16 that increased more than 10% and 7 that jumped more than 20%.
  • After seeing bigger increases in lower paying occupations last year, the highest wage offer increases were seen in some of the highest-paying occupations this year, including Management, Architecture & Engineering, Business & Financial Operations, and Computer & Mathematical occupations, which all increased more than 20% from fourth quarter 2020 to fourth quarter 2021.
  • But lower paying occupations including Food Prep & Serving Related, Production, Building & Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance, and Transportation & Material Moving also increased between 15% and 20% over the year.
  • The only four occupations that saw declines over the year were Construction & Extraction (-1.6%), Farming, Fishing & Forestry (-5.3%), Personal Care & Service (-8.6%), and Educational Instruction & Library (-11.7%) occupations, which may reflect changing demand for specific jobs (i.e. more vacancies for Paraprofessionals and substitutes versus fewer for Elementary & Secondary School Teachers).
  • The median wage offer also increased in 14 of the 20 main industries, including huge increases in higher paying industries like Finance & Insurance, Wholesale Trade, and Management of Companies.
  • The highest wage offers were in Professional & Technical Services ($35.99), Management of Companies ($34.05), and Finance & Insurance ($32.63).
  • The lowest wage offers were in Arts, Entertainment & Recreation ($13.97), Other Services ($13.98), Accommodation & Food Services ($14.97), and Retail Trade ($15.77). Wage offers declined slightly in the first two, but saw significant gains in the latter two, with wages jumping 22.0% from 2020 to 2021 in Accommodation & Food Services and 11.8% in Retail Trade.

Which Occupations Are in Demand?

Jobseekers and employers want to know who is hiring and for what fields of work. Job vacancy counts alone are not a complete picture of labor market demand since larger occupations tend to have higher numbers of vacancies. Occupations in Demand (OID) provides a ranked list of occupations currently in demand, along with links to occupational descriptions, wages and programs of study. Lists are available for Minnesota as well as the 6 sub-state planning regions. These lists use measures of demand from Job Vacancy Survey statistics as well as other sources of data including Unemployment Insurance claimants and Occupational Employment & Wage Statistics.

What is the Minnesota Job Vacancy Survey?

Employers provide information on their job vacancies twice a year to enable us to estimate hiring demand and job vacancy characteristics by industry, occupation and firm size in Minnesota. The information is gathered through a survey of 6,400 firms stratified by 6 regions of the state, 20 industry sectors, and 4 size classes.

These data provide job seekers and counselors with information on occupations showing hiring demand within their region. The information also helps employment, training and education providers understand current labor market conditions in their region and tailor services to better meet customer and employer needs. Finally, the data provides a leading labor market indicator.

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