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Letter from the Editor

June 2017

In a recent story about Utah’s economy, the New York Times concluded that the biggest economic concern in the state is no longer a lack of jobs, but a lack of workers. Businesses all over the state are struggling to expand because of a labor shortage.

The newspaper easily could have been writing about Minnesota. The state’s tight labor market is a common theme in the six regional stories in this issue of Trends. Job vacancies are at or near record highs in every area of Minnesota. The Twin Cities, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the jobs in the state, has 0.9 unemployed people for each job vacancy.

Depending on your perspective, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A worker shortage means more opportunities for job seekers, rising salaries and lower educational requirements to make it easier to recruit employees.

Still, a tight labor market is concerning because it could slow the economy if employers can’t find enough workers to keep growing.

Labor shortage aside, the overall economic outlook in Minnesota remains positive heading into the second half of the year. The state is keeping pace with the country in job growth, manufacturing hours are climbing, homebuilding permits are at their highest level in more than a decade and initial claims for unemployment benefits are at record lows.

With DEED and other organizations working to address the state’s labor force challenges, including the equity gap experienced by people of color and other groups, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Minnesota economy and where it’s headed.

Monte Hanson

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