by Tim O'Neill
Ever thought about being a biomedical engineer? Such engineers apply their knowledge of engineering, biology, and biomechanical principles to the design, development, and evaluation of biological and health systems and products, such as artificial organs, prostheses, instrumentation, medical information systems, and health management and care delivery systems.1 If this type of work interests you, and you live in the Twin Cities Metro Area, you're in luck. Of Minnesota's current estimated 1,250 biomedical engineers, all of them work in the Metro Area. Of all of the metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the United States, the Minneapolis-St. Paul MSA comes in third place for having the most biomedical engineers, and comes in seventh for having the highest concentration of such jobs. Clearly, this is a unique occupation in the Twin Cities Metro.
What other occupations are unique to the Twin Cities Metro? To answer this question, we turn to location quotients. Location quotients, for a quick review, compare industry or occupational employment levels in a local economy to the same industry or occupation in a broader economy. In the following we will take a look at occupational employment in the Metro Area compared to the State of Minnesota. This type of analysis can provide job-seekers, students, school districts, workforce development agencies, and policy-makers a more complete understanding of the region. In other words, what are the occupations that make the Metro Area unique? Are these occupations in demand? What are the wages? Are these occupations anticipated to grow into the future? These are the questions that this article will begin to answer.
The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) data tool provides extensive employment and wage information for the State of Minnesota and its regions. The information, collected through a semi-annual survey of non-farm employers covered by the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system, encompasses more than 800 specific occupations. Overall, there were 1,793,870 estimated jobs in the Metro Area as of the first quarter of 2019. As such, the region accounted for 62.6 percent of the state's 2,867,700 estimated jobs. In addition to significant location quotients, this 62.6 percent presents a base with which to determine the Metro Area's most distinguishing occupations.
Metro Area occupations with high location quotients include Computer and Information Research Scientists; Biomedical Engineers; Fashion Designers; Set and Exhibit Designers; Dancers; Flight Attendants; Epidemiologists; Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicators, and Hearing Officers; Airfield Operations Specialists; Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers; Telephone Operators; and Barbers. Each of these 12 occupations has a location quotient of 1.6 in the Metro Area. Location quotients of 1.0 imply the same concentration of employment for a particular occupation at both the local and state levels. Location quotients of 1.2 are typically considered significant, in this case, revealing occupations with higher employment concentrations in the Metro Area than the rest of the state. Of the 12 occupations listed above, each had 97 percent or more of their respective statewide employment located in the Seven-County Metro Area.
While the 12 occupations listed above are highly concentrated in the Metro Area and are certainly distinguishing areas of employment, they are relatively smaller-employing occupations. There are approximately 3,830 Flight Attendants; 3,090 Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers; and 1,250 Biomedical Engineers employed in the Metro, making these three occupations the largest-employing of the 12 listed above. Altogether, however, the 12 occupations account for just 0.6 percent of the region's total employment or just under 10,500 jobs. While 10,500 jobs is no drop in the bucket, there are 36 occupations in the Metro Area that have more than 10,500 jobs on their own. This calls for the creation of a new list of highly-concentrated as well as high-employing occupations in the Metro Area.
There is a bit of an art to determining the highly concentrated occupations in the Twin Cities Metro Area. For example, we could be very strict in our analysis, going with just those 12 occupations that have the very highest location quotient – 1.6. Again, this accounts for about 10,500 jobs in the region. We could also go by all of those occupations that meet or exceed the significant location quotient level of 1.2. Using this methodology would produce a total of 201 occupations that make the cut. These 201 occupations account for just under 850,000 jobs in the Metro Area or 47.4 percent of the region's total employment. So while the first methodology to determine the region's unique occupations is too limiting in scope, the second is too broad.
As previously mentioned, the Seven-County Metro Area accounts for 62.6 percent of Minnesota's total employment. For our first artful step in finding the right scope of unique occupations in the Metro, we'll go with just those occupations where at least 75.0 percent of their respective statewide total employment is in the Metro Area. For our second artful step, we'll include only those occupations that have at least 4,500 jobs in the region. This methodology results in a succinct list of 25 occupations that are both highly-concentrated in the Metro Area and also employ a significant number of workers (see Table 1).
|Table 1. 25 Distinguishing Occupations in the Metro Area by Share of Statewide Employment|
|Occupation||Number of Jobs||Q4 2018 Job Vacancies||2016 – 2026 Job Outlook||Median Wage||Share of Statewide Employment|
|Percent Growth||Projected Openings*|
|Total, All Jobs||1,793,870||76,542||6.8%||1,009,905||$20.95||62.6%|
|Claims Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators||5,130||119||-4.4%||928||$30.52||92.1%|
|Computer Systems Analysts||16,620||549||6.5%||3,522||$45.00||88.8%|
|Software Developers, Applications||17,590||953||23.5%||5,274||$47.32||88.%|
|Computer Occupations, All Other||5,340||264||9.8%||1,897||$38.67||86.1%|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||8,040||421||9.4%||2,427||$70.54||84.5%|
|Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products||4,560||33||4.3%||2,177||$37.92||83.7%|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||12,400||388||20.3%||5,811||$34.72||83.5%|
|Managers, All Other||7,770||N/A||7.5%||4,147||$58.02||83.1%|
|Insurance Claims and Policy Processing Clerks||5,060||26||6.9%||2,083||$22.18||81.2%|
|Business Operations Specialists, All Other||19,720||109||8.1%||8,241||$34.03||80.0%|
|Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents||7,550||306||4.1%||2,136||$42.71||79.7%|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||5,990||199||4.1%||1,433||$42.00||78.7%|
|Electrical and Electro-Mechanical Assemblers||6,950||370||N/A||N/A||$17.85||77.9%|
|Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||9,680||59||-16.7%||3,504||$28.03||77.4%|
|Software Developers, Systems Software||4,940||170||6.7%||1,420||$55.69||76.5%|
|Employment, Recruitment, and Placement Specialists||9,600||297||6.6%||3,628||$30.76||75.8%|
|Computer User Support Specialists||9,700||306||6.7%||2,929||$27.10||75.1%|
|Accountants and Auditors||17,240||551||7.7%||8,949||$33.47||75.1%|
|*Projected Openings represent the sum of job openings from employment growth and labor force exits.|
|Source: DEED Occupational Employment Statistics, Job Vacancy Survey, Employment Outlook|
Clearly, there is a high and unique concentration of employment in Business and Financial Operations, Computer and Mathematical Occupations, and Management Occupations. This makes sense, considering the high concentrations of Management of Companies; Insurance Carriers and Related Activities; and Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services among other such industries that employ high concentrations of these particular occupational groups. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is also well known for its high number of Fortune 500 companies, accounting for a higher share of occupations in management and business operations.
|When we compare occupational employment in the Metro Area to the United States, top-concentrated and large-employing occupations include Marketing Managers (location quotient of 2.4), Computer Systems Analysts (2.3), Industrial Engineers (2.1), Personal and Home Care Aides (1.8), Management Analysts (1.6), Financial Managers (1.6), Applications Software Developers (1.6), Market Research Analysts (1.6), Business Operations Specialists (1.5), and Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives (1.4). Smaller-employing occupations in the Metro Area with very high location quotients include Telephone Operators (location quotient of 9.5), Biomedical Engineers (5.3), Survey Researchers (5.1), Soil and Plant Scientists (3.4), Brokerage Clerks (3.3), Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers (3.0), Preschool Special Education Teachers (3.0), Industrial Engineering Technicians (2.9), Print Binding and Finishing Workers (2.8), and Nurse Anesthetists (2.6).|
Taking a closer look at the 25 occupations in Table 1 reveals a number of eye-opening points. For one, these occupations are high paying. More specifically, 23 of the 25 occupations have median hourly wages above the overall median wage in the Metro Area, $20.95. All 25 occupations have median hourly wages exceeding the hourly wage needed to meet the basic needs budget for an individual in the region, $15.69. Secondly, the majority of the 25 occupations require some level of post-secondary education. 16 of the 25 occupations require a bachelor's degree or more, many of them in information technology or management. Lastly, these occupations are in demand. As of DEED's most recent job vacancy survey, employers reported over 7,700 vacancies in these 25 occupations. Put another way, more than one in 10 current job vacancies in the Metro Area are in these occupations.
To learn more about these 25 unique occupations in the Metro Area as well as hundreds of other occupations, check out DEED's numerous career tools, including Occupations in Demand, the Career and Education Explorer, and the Job Vacancy Survey. For example, let's take another look at the Metro Area's highly concentrated biomedical engineer with these tools. According to the Job Vacancy Survey, employers in the Metro Area reported 38 vacancies for biomedical engineers during the fourth quarter of 2018. This was up from 11 vacancies the previous year and accounted for all but two of the state's total job vacancies for biomedical engineers. Also, according to the survey data all of these job vacancies were for full-time positions, all of them required post-secondary education, all of them required one or more years of work experience, and the median hourly wage offer was $40.24. For reference the median hourly wage offer for the total of all job vacancies reported in the Metro Area was $16.14. In other words, a biomedical engineer will earn about $50,000 more per year than the typical worker, assuming both are working full time at the median hourly wage offer.
With this job vacancy information fresh in mind, it's clear that biomedical engineers is an in-demand occupation for the Metro Area according to DEED's Occupations-in-Demand (OID) tool. Using this tool, users will also note that this occupation is anticipated to grow by 7.7 percent in the region through 2026, which is equivalent to nearly 100 net new jobs. There will be an additional need for over 240 biomedical engineers through that time to replace those who retire or otherwise leave the occupation permanently. Links within the OID tool lead users to DEED's Occupational Employment Statistics data, which reveal that the typical biomedical engineer in the Metro is earning between $40.97 per hour and $67.89 an hour, as well as a list of educational institutions in the region that offer programs towards becoming such an engineer.
Knowing that biomedical engineers are highly concentrated in the Metro Area and that it is an in-demand occupation with high wages, anyone interested in pursuing this occupation can check out DEED's Career and Education Explorer tool to get a more in-depth understanding of the occupation. For example, 84 percent of current biomedical engineers in the state have a bachelor's degree or higher and may also have certifications that are tied with this occupation, ranging from Biomedical Electronics Technician to Certified Reliability Engineer. Biomedical engineers have numerous career pathways to choose from. They may, among other options, conduct research, design and develop new medical instrumentation, go into consulting or management, or teach in the classroom. Using the Career and Education Explorer tool, those interested in becoming biomedical engineers may also look up and apply for current job postings in the region.
Whether you're interested in pursuing a career as a biomedical engineer or as a financial analyst, a software developer, or a sales manager, or just aren't sure what you want to do yet, you will find many unique occupations in the Metro Area that provide countless educational and career pathways. Continue to check back with Employment Review and DEED's labor market information tools to discover more on the Metro Area's unique occupations and how you can find a career in one.
1 "Biomedical Engineers." Occupational Employment Statistics, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, mn.gov/deed/oes.