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America's Top State for Business - Workforce

8/5/2015 10:14:43 AM

Workforce was the most heavily weighted category in CNBC's "America's Top States for Business" 2015 ranking. That's good for Minnesota, since it highlights one of our strongest assets - our people.

Each state could earn up to 400 points for workforce - while other measures in the business network's ranking system ranged from 50 to 350 possible points.

Minnesota did markedly better in its workforce ranking this year, earning 241 points and jumping to 13th place from 30th place last year. The state's improvement in this category helped Minnesota earn the honor of being named America's Top State for Business by the business network in June.

North Dakota garnered 283 points in workforce, making it the top state in this category, followed by Maryland and Georgia.

CNBC based its scores on several factors, including the education level of a state's workforce, number of available employees, a state's ability to retain college-educated workers and the success of its worker training programs in placing participants in jobs.

How does Minnesota stack up? From skilled high-tech and scientific professionals to well trained workers in the trades and production, Minnesota has a large, talented workforce.

Minnesota is justifiably proud of having one of the most educated workforces in the nation. The state ranks fourth for the percent of the population with a high school diploma or higher (92.4 percent); and, it ranks 11th for the percent of the population with a bachelor's degree or higher (33.5 percent), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As far as retaining educated workers, 80 percent of students who graduate from one of the 31 institutions in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system stay in Minnesota to work or continue their education, according to MnSCU.

Minnesotans like to work. Minnesota has one of the highest labor force participation rates in the country, at 70.6 percent, as of June 2015. And the workforce has been growing. Minnesota has a population of 5.46 million and - between 2012 and 2013 - reported the largest numeric increase in population in the 12-state Midwest region, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The state strives to ensure that workers have the skills they need to fit the labor needs of employers. Through the Minnesota Jobs Skills Partnership (MJSP) program, the state works with businesses and educational institutions to train or retrain workers, expand work opportunities and keep high-quality jobs in the state. With support from Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature, the MJSP Program has awarded $31.8 million since 2011 to train 36,161 workers and has leveraged $66.5 million in private funding. Nearly 270,000 Minnesotans have received training funded by the MJSP program since it began in 1983.

Minnesota offers many other job training and assistance programs that target special populations. For instance, Minnesota's Dislocated Worker Program helps people who have been laid off through no fault of their own. It provides career counseling, job search assistance and training in new skills, as needed. The program served more than 10,700 people in the 2014 fiscal year. More than 86 percent of those who left the program during the year got hired.

CNBC examined 10 categories, and we're taking a closer look at each to see how Minnesota fared. You'll find other write-ups on our blog. You also can read more about Minnesota's workforce on the DEED website.

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