When I became editor of Trends nearly 11 years ago, Minnesota was just beginning to enter a recession that ultimately would cost the state more than 160,000 jobs. By May 2009, the jobless rate had swelled to 8 percent and 235,000 Minnesotans were out of work.
Much has changed since then. As the cover story in this 2018 State of the State issue of Trends notes, Minnesota now faces labor market conditions as tight as anyone can remember. The state set a fourth-quarter record with nearly 114,000 job vacancies late last year and had more open jobs than people to fill them. Employers in virtually every industry in the state were scrambling to fill vacant positions.
If it’s any consolation, Minnesota isn’t alone. According to the story, job growth in Minnesota slowed to 0.7 percent through the first four months of the year, likely because of labor supply problems rather than a weakening economy. Meanwhile, job growth in surrounding states during that period was 0.7 percent in Indiana, 0.7 percent in Iowa, 0.5 percent in Nebraska, -1.3 percent in North Dakota and 0.9 percent in Wisconsin.
Higher wages, training programs, and efforts to break down barriers to education and employment for Minnesotans of color and other groups will help address some of the challenges. But with baby boomers continuing to retire in large numbers over the next decade, tight labor market conditions are likely to persist for some time.
The good news is Minnesota’s economy is still growing, nine years after the recession officially ended in June 2009. Companies are moving ahead with expansion plans. New businesses are being launched. And if you happen to be in the market for a new job, now is as good a time as any to be looking.