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Record job vacancies top 205,000 in Q2, but worker shortage continues

(The Center Square) – Job openings in Minnesota soared to a record high in the second quarter of 2021 as demand for workers outpaced hiring. Employers reported more than 205,000 vacancies, according to figures released Friday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

This was an 84% increase compared to the second quarter of 2020 and a 40% increase compared to the second quarter of 2019. In contrast, the number of unemployed workers is down 59% compared to the second quarter of 2020, up only 33% compared to the second quarter of 2019.

DEED’s survey found that the state had 0.6 unemployed people for every job vacancy in the second quarter of 2021. The record reflects a change in the labor force since the COVID-19 pandemic as many people retired early, left the workforce to care for children, or aren’t working for fear they’ll catch COVID-19.

“DEED is laser-focused on connecting people who need work with the Minnesota employers who need them now,” DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said in a statement. “We have transformed our model for helping job seekers, proactively reaching out to over 100,000 Minnesotans receiving unemployment benefits over the past seven months to let them know about the many employment opportunities available. And our new Build What Matters campaign is targeting out-of-state workers to entice them to come build the next chapter of our economy right here in Minnesota.”

The seven-county Twin Cities metro had just over 119,500 job vacancies (58% of the statewide total), while Greater Minnesota had 86,000 vacancies. Job vacancies in the Twin Cities increased 81% compared to 2020, while job vacancies in Greater Minnesota were up 88% over the year.

The Health Care and Social Assistance industry had the most job vacancies, with nearly 40,000 openings, accounting for almost 20% of total vacancies.

Accommodation and Food Services and Retail Trade spiked to record vacancy levels, with both posting more than 36,000 openings during a busy summer season. Twelve of the 20 industries in the state set new vacancy records in the second quarter of 2021.

Food Preparation and Serving workers had more than 35,000 vacancies, up 163% compared to the second quarter of 2020 when many of these workers were laid off. Likewise, the bounce back in Retail Trade led to nearly 26,500 vacancies in Sales & Related Occupations, an 84% increase over last year. Combined, those two occupational groups accounted for 30% of all openings in the state.

Demand for Healthcare Support occupations had more than 17,000 vacancies, while there were almost 14,000 openings for Healthcare Practitioners & Technical fields, including Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Medical & Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians.

The dollar amount of median wage offers increased 4.3% from one year ago. Wage offers also increased faster than average for lower-paying occupations, including a 20.5% increase for Building & Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance workers, a 14.3% increase for Transportation & Material Moving workers, an 11% increase for Farming, Fishing, & Forestry workers, and a 7.2% increase for Food Prep & Serving Related workers.

The following were other findings of the study:

  • 32% require some level of post-secondary education or training beyond a high school diploma or equivalent, meaning that most job vacancies only require a high school education.
  • 50% require one or more years of work experience.
  • 56% of vacancies offer health insurance. Health care benefits are less common for part-time job vacancies than full-time job vacancies and are less common at small- and medium-sized firms than large firms.


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