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Letter from the Editor

September 2018

Filling the Medical Lab Pipeline

Most people know what doctors, nurses and x-ray technicians do, but what about medical and diagnostic laboratory workers? Their roles in the medical field aren’t nearly as well-understood because they work behind the scenes and rarely interact with the public.

Lack of awareness about medical lab professionals and what they do is one reason the industry has a shortage of workers, particularly in rural areas of the state, according to this issue’s cover story by Cameron Macht and Anthony Schaffhauser. DEED projections indicate the industry will need to fill 850 new jobs in Minnesota in the next decade, along with replacing another 250 jobs annually because of retirements or people changing jobs.

Relatively low pay and high educational requirements are among other factors affecting the ability of medical labs to find new talent.

While industry professionals say the problem isn’t serious yet, they will need to develop a recruitment strategy to compete in an era when many industries – from manufacturing to education – are struggling to fill positions. Ultimately, increasing awareness and changing perceptions about medical and diagnostic laboratory workers might be the field’s best bet for meeting growing labor demands in coming years.

In other stories, Alessia Leibert looks at how minority students fared in the job market during and after the recession, Sanjukta Chaudhuri compares earnings for minority women to earnings for white women and men in Minnesota, and Luke Greiner examines perceptions among high school students about job opportunities in Greater Minnesota.

Two other stories dive into DEED data. Dave Senf writes about how LAUS (Local Area Unemployment Statistics) differs from CES (Current Employment Statistics). Meanwhile, Nick Dobbins compares CES data to QCEW (Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages). All of these data measure employment, but they do it in slightly different ways and get slightly different outcomes. Knowing the difference matters if you’re a numbers geek who likes to follow the ups and downs of Minnesota’s labor market.

Monte Hanson

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