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Northeast Region

northwest-minnesota-mapHome to the state's second-largest metro, the Northeast Region has a strong industrial sector, tied largely to the area's abundant natural resources.

Most of the manufacturing base centers on mining and forest products industries. More than half of the sector's employment is in paper and machinery manufacturing.

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The Untapped Potential of Workers with a Disability

8/15/2019 2:30:00 PM

Erik White

The region and state are under a tight labor market in which employers are struggling to fill open job vacancies. To help alleviate the situation, employers should target under-represented communities such as people of color and those with disabilities to increase candidates in the hiring pool.  Employers may have access to federal tax incentives like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Disabled Access Credit, and Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction. Hiring a person with a disability can also boost business growth and improve the community. 

In Northeast Minnesota, the Census Bureau estimates that there are 9,543 people with a disability in the labor force, either working or actively seeking work, or 5.8 percent of the total regional workforce.  According to 2017 estimates, the labor force participation rate for people with any disability is 42.1 percent and the unemployment rate is 11.5 percent, which is significantly different than the overall labor force. The pattern of higher unemployment rates and lower labor force participation rates exist when comparing the region to the state. (Table 1).

Table 1. Employment Characteristics, 2017

The number of workers with a disability is growing in Northeast Minnesota, despite the shrinking of the overall labor force. In 2012, there were an estimated 9,329 people with a disability in the labor force, indicating an increase of 214 workers with a disability, or a growth rate of 2.3 percent to reach 2017’s estimate of 9,543 people. However, in 2012, there were 164,886 people in the labor force overall, meaning by 2017 there was a decline of 1,600 workers, or a decline of 1.0 percent. Data shows that workers with a disability are a growing source of labor force potential.

If employment disparities were leveled away for workers with a disability, there would be a surplus of workers to add to the labor force. If the participation rate rose to 60.7 percent for workers with any disability, there would be an additional 4,216 more workers to the Northeast labor force. If the unemployment rate decreased from 11.5 percent to 5.2 percent for workers with any disability, there would be over 500 more employed workers in the region.

Here’s an educational opportunity for employers: CareerForce and the local workforce development boards will offer a day-long presentation on the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. Scheduled for Wednesday, August 21 at the Aad Shrine Meeting and Event Center in Hermantown, the presentation will include a panel of employers with experience in hiring employees with disabilities.  Along with labor market information, DEED’s Vocational Rehabilitation will discuss the hiring process and working with a person with disabilities. This no-cost event includes lunch. RSVP here. 

The success of any business depends on hiring the right people. Employers severely limit their talent pool if they do not consider hiring candidates with disabilities, especially during a tight labor market.

For More Information

Contact Erik White at 218-302-8413.


Northeast MN


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