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Letter From the Editor

by Carol Walsh
December 2019

Last September’s feature, Hiring Difficulties in Manufacturing, summarized the challenges faced by manufacturing employers when hiring skilled workers – and guides us to this issue’s Most In-Demand Skills in Manufacturing. Employers will have to get creative about sustaining their partnerships with schools and technical education providers to bridge skills gaps, according to Alessia Leibert. General mechanical aptitude is acknowledged as the biggest gap. Some employers would hire people straight out of high school if their job candidates had mechanical aptitude.

As we’ve emphasized, it will take a multi-pronged approach to address the shortage of workers. Higher wages, specialized training programs, and policy responses to break down education and employment barriers will help. But we can do more.

In High Wage Workers in Minnesota, Nick Dobbins deploys DEED’s Quarterly Employment Dynamics data to get a count of people who earned more than a million dollars in 2018 and 2003. What he finds isn’t surprising: Most of the million-dollar employees are men, by a margin of 73 percent to 27 percent and most are concentrated in the metro area in a small number of industries.

Minnesota’s strong economy, underpinned by October’s 3.2 seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, has benefited workers of every demographic characteristic, writes Cameron Macht in Evaluating Unemployment Insurance Claims. However, the most detailed read on economic change is from Unemployment Insurance claims statistics, which are produced monthly and are directly tied to workers’ employment status. If claims activity starts to rise, DEED can identify the age groups, gender, race, occupations, industries, or geographic locations affected and craft an effective response.

In the updated Disability Employment Statistics, Sanjukta Chaudhuri finds the unemployment rate of Minnesotans with disabilities declined more rapidly between 2014 and 2018, down by 2.2 percentage points, than for the total population, down 1.2 percentage points. But it’s important to realize this segment of the workforce continues to face significant barriers to realizing their full economic potential.

Finally, Steve Hine, former Labor Market Information Office director, describes our effort to provide an annual count of occupational openings that will be available to new graduates after accounting for incumbent workers. This then provides an annual count, by occupation, of the number of new graduates required to fill these available openings.

If ‘former’ didn’t register, be assured that after nearly 17 years of remarkable leadership, Steve is taking on a research and writing role in Commissioner Steve Grove’s office – and you can expect to read his contributions regularly in Trends.

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