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A Region in Recovery

8/22/2023 9:00:00 AM

Tim O'Neill

Recently, the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) released 1st quarter 2023 employment data through the Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages (QCEW). QCEW data provides industry employment and wage information at the state, regional, and county level, including all establishments covered under the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program. As such, we can get a look at how the Seven-County Metro Area's employment is trending in recent years. This is especially insightful as the region continues to recover from the COVID-19 recession in 2020.

According to DEED's QCEW data, the Metro Area had 94,300 establishments supplying 1,718,974 covered jobs during 1st quarter 2023. As Figure 1 shows, the region was up 26,779 jobs (+1.6%) from 1st quarter 2022 and up 87,239 jobs (+5.3%) from 1st quarter 2021. However, the region is still down 38,394 jobs (-2.2%) from 1st quarter 2020. In other words, the Metro Area has regained about 70% of the more than 125,600 jobs it lost between the first quarters of 2020 and 2021, and still has some distance to go to get back to pre-pandemic employment levels (Figure 1).

Metro Area Job Trends

In all, the Metro Area has about 38,400 jobs to gain to match the pre-COVID levels of employment it had during 1st quarter 2020. The bulk of the region's employment losses have been felt in Hennepin and Ramsey counties. Hennepin County must regain over 32,100 jobs to reach 1st quarter 2020 levels of employment while Ramsey County must gain 11,600 jobs. Dakota County must recover nearly 4,900 jobs to reach pre-COVID levels of employment. Meanwhile, Scott County, Washington County, Anoka County, and Carver County are all now above their respective 1st quarter 2020 levels of employment. In fact, at just over 4,300 jobs above its pre-COVID level of employment, Scott County has gained the most jobs of any county in Minnesota between the first quarters of 2020 and 2023 (Table 1).

Table 1. Metro Area Job Change by County, Q1 2020 – Q1 2023
Area Number of Establishments Number of Jobs Q1 2020 – Q1 2023 Job Change
Numeric Percent
Minnesota 207,623 2,835,269 -20,797 -0.7%
Metro Area 94,300 1,718,974 -38,394 -2.2%
   Hennepin County 44,777 898,953 -32,151 -3.5%
   Ramsey County 15,461 318,874 -11,600 -3.5%
   Dakota County 11,740 182,913 -4,873 -2.6%
   Anoka County 8,676 129,501 +2,137 +1.7%
   Washington County 6,840 90,876 +2,974 +3.4%
   Scott County 3,938 57,599 +4,302 +8.1%
   Carver County 2,868 40,256 +817 +2.1%
Source: DEED Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

At an industry level, Finance & Insurance (-11,036 jobs), Accommodation & Food Services (-8,725 jobs), and Retail Trade (-8,098 jobs) are the three industries with the most employment loss between the 1st quarters of 2020 and 2023. Educational Services (-5,686 jobs) and Administrative Support & Waste Management Services (-5,419 jobs) are also significantly below their respective pre-COVID levels of employment. Meanwhile, Transportation & Warehousing (+2,730 jobs), Manufacturing (+2,730 jobs), and Construction (+1,801 jobs) have experienced the most employment growth since 1st quarter 2020. Overall, nine major industries in the Metro Area are above their respective pre-COVID levels of employment, while 11 are still below (Figure 2).

Metro Area Industry Trends

For More Information

Contact Tim O'Neill, Labor Market Analyst, at

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