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Letter From the Editor

September 2019

Are We Ready for What's Next?

In Minnesota, we have so much to be optimistic about – our diverse economy, a strong business climate, and an extraordinary workforce founded on values of hard work and integrity.

Yet no one would say that the growth of Minnesota’s economy is inevitable. We have a severe workforce shortage, well documented by DEED’s Labor Market Information Office. Many communities face barriers to employment, and the fast-changing global economy requires that we ask ourselves if we’re ready for what’s next.

Here’s what’s next in Trends:

Hiring Difficulties in Manufacturing, by Alessia Leibert, summarizes employer interviews on hiring skilled production, repair and engineering technicians in manufacturing. One goal of the survey is to identify if skilled manufacturing jobs are difficult to fill because of a skills gap or demand-side reasons. From what we’re seeing, and you’ll soon discover, employers will have to strengthen on-the-job training partnerships with local schools to bridge skills gaps.

In Connecting Students and Educators to Labor Market Information, Luke Greiner introduces a new tool to help connect local labor market information to the Career Wheel that high schools and colleges around the state use. The Career Pathways Tool is designed to help our schools help all students make career decisions that keep the economy in mind.

David Senf explains how diffusion indexes measure the dispersion of employment change across industries and what it means for the economy. In a second article, he provides an analysis of the similarities and differences between the current economic expansion and previous expansions. In July, the current expansion, which started in June 2009, became the longest of the 11 post-World War II expansions.

Finally, Sanjukta Chaudhuri gives a brief overview of the state’s construction industry in 2019. The general outlook for the industry is positive, but construction is vulnerable to business cycles; the level of construction activity is an important early indicator of economic conditions. Like manufacturing, construction needs to find strategies to diversify its workforce.

Carol Walsh

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