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Letter from the Editor

June 2014

State of the Economy

The Great Recession officially ended five years ago in June. It has been a long road back nationally and in Minnesota, with the state reaching a milestone last September when it officially replaced all the jobs lost in the recession. That and other positive economic indicators, including a declining unemployment rate, more job openings and fewer claims for unemployment insurance benefits, might lead people to conclude that our economic challenges are over.

But as our annual state of the economy story indicates in this issue of Trends, you might want to wait before breaking out the champagne.

Six Minnesota industrial sectors, including manufacturing and construction, still haven't gained back all the jobs that were lost in the recession. And there is ample evidence to suggest that certain groups have been left behind in the recovery, including people of color, people with disabilities and people who have struggled with long-term unemployment.

That last point is an important one. With a skilled labor shortage on the horizon because of retiring baby boomers, it's imperative that we remove the barriers to employment that prevent people from finding quality jobs. That will not only address our looming labor shortage but ensure that all Minnesotans have an opportunity to share in the fruits of our economic growth.

Elsewhere in this issue, Luke Greiner looks at the manufacturing sector in central and southwestern Minnesota, Tim O'Neill examines the construction industry in the Twin Cities and southeastern Minnesota, and Jan Saxhaug writes about the health care and social assistance sector in northern Minnesota. Longtime Trends contributor Rachel Vilsack follows up on her recent story about employment in Minnesota's 25 largest cities with a similar piece about employment in the state's 87 counties.

If you're a numbers and data junkie, get ready for a treat. There's a lot to read and digest in this issue.

Monte Hanson
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