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Letter from the Editor

December 2016

The Minnesota construction sector was hit harder than any other industry during the recession, losing nearly 38,000 jobs, an astonishing 32 percent drop in employment.

While construction employment still hasn’t returned to its pre-recession peak, the industry is growing again and is finding it increasingly difficult to fill positions, according to the cover story by Oriane Casale in this issue of Trends.

Many of the construction workers who lost jobs during the recession – generally white males – have long since moved on to other careers or retired. With fewer young people showing interest in construction careers these days and the white working-age population continuing to shrink, the industry will be challenged to rebuild its talent pool.

The solution might be found in two groups that have been historically underrepresented at construction worksites – people of color and women. Casale says they will be essential to addressing the industry’s employment needs in coming years.

People with disabilities are another demographic group with a history of being underrepresented in the workforce. Mohamed Mourssi-Alfash’s story that begins on Page 9 documents that people with disabilities trail the overall population in virtually every measure of the labor market, from the unemployment rate to labor force participation.

In a related story, Mourssi-Alfash and Ann Feaman point to the state’s new Connect 700 program as a cause for hope in the disability community. Launched by Gov. Mark Dayton last October, the program aims to increase the number of people with disabilities in the state government workforce. If it succeeds, Connect 700 could become a role model for promoting disability hiring across the country.

Elsewhere in this issue, Steve Hine and Matt Bombyk look at how many occupations in Minnesota require more than a high school education – not as many as you might think – and Chloe Campbell examines the growing demand for home health aides and personal care aides.

There’s a lot to learn and think about in this issue. We hope you enjoy it.

Monte Hanson

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