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Letter From the Editor

Automation’s Impact

With near-record low unemployment rates, 2.8 percent in October, and a slow-growing labor force, Luke Greiner examines the role of automation in maintaining Minnesota’s global position using the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation’s index of at risk occupations.

The theme of job-destroying technologies bringing ruin to laborers, as a purported exchange between Queen Elizabeth I and William Lee, the inventor of the knitting machine, indicates, has always been with us. Based on Luke’s analysis, Minnesota has a smaller relative concentration of occupations that are most at-risk to be impacted by automation compared to the nation.

No matter how automation continues to change the face of work for Minnesotans, lifelong learning is the key to staying relevant in the workplace.

Signs of Minnesota’s tight job market continue to pile on. In addition to the headline unemployment rate (official or U-3), Dave Senf looks at other measures of labor underutilization – known as U-4, U-5, and U-6 – to determine whether part-time workers can move from the ranks of underemployed into full-time jobs. All these measures of Minnesota unemployment spiked during the Great Recession, and now they’re the lowest on record. Look for this to become the new normal.

Sanjukta Chaudhuri writes that gender and race/ethnicity-based earnings gaps persist even after accounting for field of study and choice of occupation.

Finally, it’s the end of an era for the Dayton administration. Steve Hine, Research Director, assesses Minnesota’s employment conditions over the past eight years and compares them to previous administrations. It’s a good reminder that administrations, no matter what political party, have limited influence over cyclical economic trends. Read his wrap-up to find out what the economies under the Perpich, Carlson and Dayton administrations have in common. Let’s just say he likes what he sees.

Carol Walsh

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