7/18/2016 9:54:04 AM
Employers in Southwest Minnesota took another big step on the road to recovery after adding almost 1,200 net new jobs over the past year, raising the total count to 175,678 jobs in 2015. While still not back to break even from the region’s pre-recession peak, Southwest Minnesota’s economy saw stronger growth in the past year (see Figure 1).
After peaking at about 178,000 jobs from 2006 to 2008, employers in the region cut back quickly during the recession, bottoming out at just over 171,000 jobs in 2010. Since then, the region has experienced a slower recovery than the rest of the state, but with the gain in the last year is now back to about the same number of jobs the region had in 2005 and is on a growth trajectory.
Hit hardest and suffering the largest job cuts during the recession, the manufacturing industry has been leading the region’s recent comeback, gaining over 1,200 jobs over the past five years. Manufacturing is still the largest employing industry in the region, providing over 31,600 jobs across the 23-county region.
Southwest Minnesota has also enjoyed strong growth in other areas of traditional strength for the region including agriculture, construction, and transportation and warehousing. Those three industries – which are all more highly concentrated in Southwest Minnesota than the state as a whole – added nearly 2,450 jobs over the past five years combined, with especially fast growth occurring in the past year when all three industries grew at least five times faster than the region’s economy overall.
Health care and social assistance, the region’s second largest industry with just over 30,300 jobs, saw a small loss of jobs in the last year, but was still growing over time and is projected to be the largest growing industry in the region over the next decade.
In sum, 14 of the 20 main industry sectors in the region gained jobs over the past five years. The data show very clearly that job seekers in Southwest Minnesota will find a wide variety of opportunities in a wide variety of industries (see Table 1).