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Minnesota Job Outlook to 2024

by Dave Senf
June 2016

The main goal of employment projections is to provide details on projected job growth and employment prospects for 810 occupations in Minnesota. Projections of future job growth at the national, state, and substate level are widely used in career guidance, in planning education and training programs, and in workforce development efforts in the private and public sectors.

Changes in demand for goods and services, productivity advances, technological innovations, and shifts in business practices all combine to alter the mix of occupations that employers will be looking to fill over the next 10 years. Another factor is the retirement of the baby boomers over the next 10 years. Job openings arising from retirements are higher than job openings created by employment growth for most occupations.

Total jobs in Minnesota are projected to increase by 130,000 between 2014 and 2024, reaching over 3.1 million jobs by 2024 according to recently released 2014 – 2024 Minnesota employment projections.1 The projected growth is roughly 40 percent higher than the previous 10 years (2004 - 2014) when the state added just 94,000. Job expansion over the last 10 years was severely trimmed by steep job cutbacks experienced during the Great Recession. Minnesota's job machine won't return to the glory years of 1994 – 2004 when Minnesota added 350,000 jobs despite the mild 2001 recession. While no repeat of the Great Recession is expected, economic and job growth nationally and in Minnesota will be limited by slow labor force growth as the baby boomers begin to retire. Minnesota's labor force participation inched upwards in 2015 for the first time in 15 years as the job market heated up, but the uptick is likely to be temporary.

When Baby Boomers entered the labor force between 1964 and 1980, they replaced a much smaller older generation in the workforce thus generating robust labor force expansion. A steady increase in female labor force participation between 1960 and 2000 boosted labor force growth even higher before it flattened out in 2000. Since Millennial numbers are just slightly larger than Baby Boomers, labor force growth will be subdued as Millennials replace Baby Boomers. Unless net immigration into the state increases significantly the state's labor force will record minimal growth between 2020 and 2030.

Projected jobs include wage and salary employment as well as self-employment with all jobs measured on an annual average basis. Projection employment plunged 4.8 percent between 2007 and 2010 with wage and salary jobs dropping 4.6 percent and self-employed jobs slipping by 6.2 percent. Wage and salary employment surpassed the 2007 peak in 2013, but self-employment continued to fall until last year and remains below its pre-recession peak.

Job growth has averaged 1.5 percent since 2011 but is expected to decline gradually over the next 10 years to average only 0.5 percent annually between 2014 and 2024. Most of the projected job expansion will occur over the next five years before tailing off during the second half of the decade as Baby Boomer retirements slow labor force growth and restrict job growth. The moderate job growth combined with slower labor force growth will continue to push Minnesota's unemployment down. Unemployment in the state is likely to fall below 3 percent for the first time since 1999 over the next few years unless a recession develops and demand for workers drops.

Minnesota's long-term industry and occupational employment projections (10-year timeframe) rely heavily on national industry and occupational employment projections produced by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).2 Minnesota, along with most other states, customizes national projections to reflect state specific industrial, occupational, and demographic traits. Historical employment trends for 290 industries in Minnesota are compared to corresponding national industry employment trends using statistical techniques. The models produced are used with BLS's projections of 2024 national industry employment to produce industry projections for Minnesota.

The key macroeconomic assumptions driving the 2014-2024 national industry projections are:

  1. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth will average 2.2 percent annually during the 10-year period, up from the 1.6 percent annual average experienced during the previous decade, but slower than the 3.4 percent growth achieved between 1994 and 2004.
  2. Productivity growth will increase slightly over the next 10 years, averaging 1.8 percent between 2014 and 2024 compared to the 1.5 percent average experienced between 2004 and 2014. The 1.8 percent annual productivity gain will be down from the 2.8 percent achieved between 1994 and 2004.
  3. U.S. labor force growth will inch down over the next 10 years, averaging 0.5 percent a year compared to the 0.6 percent annual average of the previous 10 years. Labor force growth between 1994 and 2004 averaged 1.2 percent annually.
  4. Unemployment will average 5.2 percent in 2024, an improvement over the 6.2 percent averaged in 2014 and the 5.6 percent 2004 average.

Projected industry employment is converted to occupational employment projections based on industry staffing patterns, the distribution of industry employment across occupations. Staffing patterns for Minnesota industries are developed from estimates of occupational employment collected through the Minnesota Salary Survey, which is a product of the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program.3 Shifts in staffing patterns over the 2014 and 2024 period across industries are also projected as part of the BLS national projections. These shifts in staffing patterns are used in Minnesota's projections.

A majority of occupations, 562 in all, will experience employment growth over the next 10 years in Minnesota. The expected expansion of healthcare services over the next 10 years is a prime example of how changes in the demand for goods and services fuel demand for particular occupations. As the Baby Boomer generation enters their senior years, demand for healthcare services will increase steadily. Increasing healthcare service expenditures will in turn boost the demand for workers in healthcare related jobs like registered nurses, pharmacists, dental assistants, personal care aides, and home health aides both nationally and in Minnesota.

Twenty-three occupations are expected to see no change in the number of workers. Slightly more than 25 percent of all occupations, 225, are projected to decline. Seven of 10 declining occupations, however, are projected to decline by 10 percent or less.

The 225 shrinking occupations combined accounted for roughly 477,000 jobs or 16 percent of all jobs in 2014. The number of jobs in these occupations is projected to tail off to 444,000 by 2024, an aggregated 7 percent drop. Declining occupations are concentrated in the production, office and administrative support, and management occupational groups. Almost all of the job loss in the managerial group is expected to be farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers. Minnesota farmers totaled 50,900 in 2014 and are projected to slip to 47,900 over the next 10 years. They are included in the managerial occupation group. Other occupations expected to see their numbers shrink the most over the next 10 years are bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, postal service mail carriers, cutting, punching, and press setters and operators, executive secretaries, and computer programmers.

For example, in 2014 an estimated 2,250 bill and account collectors (SOC 43-3011) were working in the business support services industry (NAICS 5614) accounting for 18.9 percent of the 11,860 workers in the industry. While this industry is expected to increase employment to 12,190 by 2024, bill and account collector jobs will drop to 1,880 or 15.4 percent of industry employment. New software and automated calling systems should increase productivity and allow collectors to handle more accounts, thus decreasing demand for workers in this occupation.

Other occupations expected to shrink by more than half are office and administrative support occupations. Automation of duties performed by many office and administrative support occupations will increase productivity thereby reducing the need for employees in these occupations. The declining occupations include: bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, tellers, bill and account collectors, and shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks.

Minnesota's total employment is projected to climb 4.3 percent over the 2014-24 period, compared to the 6.5 percent projected for U.S. employment over the same time period. Minnesota's employment growth trailed the U.S. pace during the previous 10 years, 3.2 percent for the state compared to 4.3 percent nationwide.

Job growth is predicted to be concentrated in the 315 occupations projected to grow faster than overall employment. These fast growing occupations are anticipated to account for roughly 80 percent of new jobs. The rest of the employment expansion will occur in the other 247 occupations expected to add workers during the next 10 years but at a slower pace than the 4.3 percent projected average. Twenty-two occupations are expected to experience no change in numbers over the next 10 years. The other 223 occupations are expected to be declining occupations. The combined loss of shrinking occupations is projected to be approximately 33,000 jobs.

Only four occupational groups will experience job growth above overall job growth over the next 10 years – service, construction, professional and related, and installation, maintenance, and repair. Management, business, and financial jobs along with sales and related, and transportation and material moving occupations will continue to grow over the next decade but slower than average job growth.

The two largest major occupational groups in Minnesota - professional and related occupations and service occupations – will add the most jobs in Minnesota from 2014 to 2024 (see Table 1). These two major occupational groups, which tend to have occupations at the opposite ends of the educational attainment and earnings range are projected to account for 74 percent of all net employment growth over the next 10 years.

Table 1: Minnesota Industrial Employment Projections
Estimated 2014 Projected 2024 2014 - 2024 Numeric Change 2014 - 2024 Percent Change
Total Employment 3,007,000 3,137,000 130,000 4.3
Self-Employed 196,800 201,300 4,500 2.3
Goods-Producing Sector 449,500 443,800 -5,700 -1.3
Natural Resources and Mining 29,900 28,400 -1,500 -5.0
Construction 107,600 117,900 10,300 9.6
Manufacturing 312,000 297,500 -14,500 -4.6
Private Service-Providing Sector 1,980,900 2,113,400 132,500 6.7
Trade, Transportation, and Utilities 516,500 530,000 13,400 2.6
Information 52,500 48,900 -3,700 -6.9
Financial Activities 177,400 187,700 10,300 5.8
Professional and Business Services 353,400 372,300 19,000 5.3
Educational and Health Services 485,800 563,500 77,600 16.0
Leisure and Hospitality 267,300 280,700 13,400 5.0
Other Services (Except Government) 128,000 130,300 2,300 1.8
Government 379,800 378,600 -1,200 -0.3
Source: DEED LMI Office Projections

Service occupations will not only be adding the most jobs over the next decade but will also be the fastest growing occupational group. Service occupations, fueled by rapidly climbing healthcare support jobs and personal care and service jobs, are anticipated to expand 8.9 percent or more than twice as fast as the overall job growth rate.

The top 50 occupations in terms of the number of workers employed accounted for 50.3 percent of all employment in Minnesota in 2014. The largest occupations range from retail salespersons (87,600 jobs) to computer systems analysts (13,700 jobs). Employment growth in these large occupations will account for 60.3 percent of the new jobs. Four of the largest occupations, however, are expected to see their workforce numbers shrink – bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers, executive sectaries and executive administrative assistants, and shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks.

Three major occupational groups are expected to see their workforce numbers decrease between 2014 and 2024. Declining manufacturing employment will result in fewer production jobs. Automation of duties performed by many office and administrative support occupations is anticipated to lead to fewer office and administrative support jobs by 2024. Farm, fishing, and forestry occupations are also projected to continue their gradual decline.

The top 50 fastest growing occupations among occupations with employment of more than 500 workers in 2014 combined for just over 7 percent of the 2014 employment base but are anticipated to account for slightly more than 37 percent of jobs created over the next 10 years. These fast growing occupations are projected to grow by 14.4 percent or more which is over three times faster than overall job growth.

As presented above, projected employment growth can be viewed from two perspectives – percent change and numerical change. Some occupations, which start with a large number of workers in 2014, are projected to grow slower than overall employment growth but will add a large number of workers by 2024. Other occupations, which have relatively small numbers of worker in 2014, are projected to grow rapidly over the next 10 years but will add relatively few new jobs. The distinction between occupations with fast employment growth and occupations expected to add the most jobs is apparent when the 50 fastest growing occupations (Table 2) are compared to the 50 occupations expected to add the most jobs (Table 3).

Table 2: Minnesota Occupational Employment Projections
Estimated 2014 Projected 2024 2014 - 2024 Numeric Change
Total Employment 3,007,000 3,137,000 130,000
Management 228,500 233,600 5,100
Business and Financial Operations 170,500 180,000 9,600
Computer and Mathematical 93,500 101,300 7,800
Architecture and Engineering 52,300 52,600 300
Life, Physical, and Social Science 26,000 27,300 1,400
Community and Social Services 59,900 65,400 5,500
Legal 21,100 22,100 1,000
Education, Training, and Library 164,200 168,200 4,000
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media 54,300 55,100 800
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical 163,600 183,800 20,100
Healthcare Support 91,500 107,600 16,100
Protective Service 47,800 49,000 1,200
Food Preparation and Serving Related 231,500 243,300 11,800
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance 99,200 103,900 4,700
Personal Care and Service 157,800 179,600 21,800
Sales and Related 289,100 299,900 10,800
Office and Administrative Support 425,400 421,300 -4,000
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry 16,000 15,200 -800
Construction and Extraction 111,900 120,600 8,700
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair 102,900 107,500 4,600
Production 223,600 219,000 -4,600
Transportation and Material Moving 176,500 180,600 4,200
Source: DEED LMI Office Projections

Table 3: Occupations Adding the Most Jobs
2014 - 2024 Numeric Change 2014 - 2024 Percent Change
Personal Care Aides 16,520 25.8
Home Health Aides 9,250 30.1
Registered Nurses 6,720 11.8
Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers 5,320 8.3
Retail Salespersons 4,920 5.6
Cooks, Restaurant 2,700 11.2
Computer Systems Analysts 2,470 18.0
Nursing Assistants 2,450 8.2
Customer Service Representatives 2,400 4.4
Social and Human Service Assistants 2,210 14.2
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses 2,060 11.4
Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 2,030 4.4
Accountants and Auditors 1,930 7.0
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists 1,670 13.3
General and Operations Managers 1,590 4.2
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 1,580 6.3
Medical Assistants 1,540 17.9
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers 1,510 4.0
Computer and Information Systems Managers 1,450 14.4
Carpenters 1,430 7.2
Business Operations Specialists, All Other 1,350 4.6
Construction Laborers 1,310 9.4
First-Line Supervisors of Office and Administrative Support Workers 1,260 5.3
Childcare Workers 1,260 4.0
Software Developers, Applications 1,250 10.4
Management Analysts 1,250 8.6
Computer User Support Specialists 1,200 9.2
Electricians 1,180 10.6
Medical Secretaries 1,150 13.0
First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers 1,120 7.4
Self-Enrichment Education Teachers 1,120 15.0
Machinists 1,110 10.0
Bartenders 1,060 6.1
Cashiers 1,020 1.7
Recreation Workers 1,020 12.1
First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers 980 4.3
Industrial Machinery Mechanics 960 16.3
Maintenance and Repair Workers, General 960 4.3
Medical and Health Services Managers 950 14.9
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators 930 20.1
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists 900 5.6
Insurance Sales Agents 890 10.7
Physical Therapists 880 23.2
Receptionists and Information Clerks 870 4.1
Personal Financial Advisors 840 16.6
Massage Therapists 820 24.0
Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing 800 2.5
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters 800 8.3
Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists 790 11.9
Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics 770 17.4
Source: DEED LMI Office Projections

Only 13 of the 87 occupations listed in the tables are in both tables. These occupations are:

  • Computer and Information Systems Managers
  • Computer Systems Analysts
  • Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators
  • Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
  • Home Health Aides
  • Industrial Machinery Mechanics
  • Massage Therapists
  • Medical and Health Services Managers
  • Medical Assistants
  • Personal Care Aides
  • Personal Financial Advisors
  • Physical Therapists
  • Self-Enrichment Education Teachers

Job opportunities tend to be better in occupations that are growing, but new openings created by employment growth are not even half of the future job opportunity story. The chance of scoring a job in a particular occupation also depends on how many workers are leaving the occupation and on how many job seekers are looking to enter that occupation.

An estimated 87,600 workers were employed in Minnesota's largest occupation, retail salespersons, in 2014. By 2024 the state is expected have nearly 92,600 retail salespersons. The 5,000 new retail salesperson jobs expected over the next 10 years will represent roughly 5 percent of all retail salesperson jobs in 2024; the other 85 percent of retail salesperson jobs already exist.

Many of the 85,800 individuals working as retail salespersons in 2014, however, will not be working as retail salespersons in 2024. Workers will switch occupations, retire, or leave the labor force for other reasons thereby creating retail salesperson job openings. More of these openings, termed net openings, are projected than job openings arising from employment growth for most occupations. An estimated 30,400 net replacement openings are projected for retail salespersons over the next 10 years as current retail salespersons leave the occupation while only 5,000 retail salespersons openings are expected over the same period from growth in the occupation.

Even occupations that are expected to decline in numbers over the next 10 years will have replacement openings. Fewer bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks are projected to be employed in Minnesota in 2024 than in 2014 (35,830 vs. 39,740), but many of the workers employed as bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks in 2024 will have been hired over the last 10 years, filling the clerk jobs that opened as workers moved to other occupations or retired. More than 3,900 net replacement bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerk openings will need to be filled over the next 10 years.

Because of the importance of replacement needs, estimates of net replacement openings for each occupation over the next 10 years are included in the 2014 – 2024 employment projections for Minnesota. Net replacement openings, entrants minus separations, are based on nationwide census data which track the entrants and separations of an occupation by age cohorts. The net replacement opening estimates understate the total number of job openings in an occupation over the next 10 years but are the best available estimates of job openings available to new labor force entrants.

In addition to the 130,000 job openings projected to be created through employment growth over the next 10 years, approximately 697,000 net replacement openings are projected. Occupations with high numbers of net replacement openings tend to be occupations with large employment bases in 2014 and high turnover rates (see Table 4). Over 94 percent the occupations are projected to have more net replacement openings than openings from employment growth. Net replacement openings should be considered when exploring the future prospects of any occupation. The need to fill replacement openings will only increase later in the decade ahead as Baby Boomer retirements increase between now and 2024.

Table 4: Most Net Replacement Openings
Net Replacement Openings 2014 - 2024 Job Openings from Employment Growth 2014 - 2024
Retail Salespersons 30,380 4,920
Cashiers 25,890 1,020
Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food 20,660 5,320
Waiters and Waitresses 23,320 180
Personal Care Aides 5,180 16,520
Registered Nurses 13,390 6,720
Home Health Aides 6,940 9,250
Customer Service Representatives 13,440 2,400
Office Clerks, General 12,400 380
Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 9,230 2,030
General and Operations Managers 9,510 1,590
Stock Clerks and Order Fillers 10,340 550
Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand 10,080 680
Childcare Workers 9,210 1,260
Accountants and Auditors 7,330 1,930
Nursing Assistants 6,730 2,450
Cooks, Restaurant 6,360 2,700
Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers 8,680 0
Teacher Assistants 7,590 680
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers 6,410 1,510
Source: DEED LMI Office Projections

1 Detailed 2014 – 2024 occupational and industry employment projections for Minnesota can be found at mn.gov/deed/data/data-tools/employment-outlook.

2 The BLS's main projection website is http://www.bls.gov/emp/. Projections for all states are available at projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm.

3 Information on the Minnesota Salary Survey is available at mn.gov/deed/oes. A condensed 2014 Minnesota staffing pattern matrix (810 occupations across 30 aggregated industries) is available at mn.gov/deed/data/data-tools/occupational-staffing.

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